BBC exec Zai Bennett is leaving the corporation to take up a key post at BSkyB.
The BBC Three Controller is to step down from his current post and move to Sky where he will serve as the Director of Sky Atlantic. Bennett, whose career has included several roles at ITV, has served as BBC Three Controller since 2011. His departure comes mere weeks after the BBC announced plans to shut down BBC Three as a linear channel and move the output of the youth-skewing channel online.
Under Bennett, BBC Three saw its ratings rise to overtake Channel 4 in the key younger demo. He was also responsible for commissioning numerous hits such as comedies Bad Education and Cuckoo – both of which are currently being adapted for the US market – as well as Call Centre and Hair. The channel also secured four BAFTA wins under his leadership.
In his new role as Director of Sky Atlantic, which he will assume from August 2014, Zai will report to Sky’s Director of Entertainment Channels Stuart Murphy and will be responsible for the direction and output of Sky Atlantic. He joins at a key time for Sky Atlantic, with the channel recently renewing its output deal with HBO and making an aggressive push into original drama with the upcoming Fortitude.
“I am delighted someone of the calibre of Zai has joined Sky to run Sky Atlantic”, said Staurt Murphy. “Having admired his work for many years, it’s just great to now have him on the same team. Zai has huge experience in commercial TV and his innate desire to welcome and support creative risk is a perfect fit for Sky. With his new role at Sky Atlantic, we will give him the backing and platform to do at epic scale.”
While Zai Bennett added: “I’m delighted to be joining Sky Atlantic at such an exciting time. Its enviable partnership with HBO together with its commissioning strategy gives me one of the best jobs in the industry. Sky’s ambition and appetite to do things differently is exactly the creative challenge I’m looking for and I can’t wait to join Stuart’s fantastic team and help drive the channel forward.”