The BBC has lost the rights to The Great British Bake Off after lengthy negotiations with indie Love Productions broke down, TVWise has confirmed.
While there has been talk all year of a bidding war to poach the show from the BBC, sources insist that there is no impending deal, as there have been no formal talks with any broadcasters other than the Beeb.
That said, ITV is expected to swoop for the show now that the talks with the BBC have broken down and Love is said to only be interested in securing a deal with a FTA channel. Regardless of which broadcaster snaps up the show, the next season can not be broadcast before the end of 2018 as Love’s existing licensing agreement with the BBC gives the corporation a 12 month hold back.
The Great British Bake Off – fronted by Mel Gedroyc & Sue Perkins and judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry – has long been a ratings winner for the BBC, with the current season having recently launched to more than 13 million viewers. The talks to renew the series under a multi-year contract dragged on for the better part of year, with the biggest bone of contention being the amount of money the BBC was putting up for the show.
Owing to the fact that Bake Off was commissioned by then factual boss Charlotte Moore (now the BBC’s Director of Content), it was financed under the lower-cost factual tariff. Given the show’s prominence and the fact it was widely viewed as an entertainment show, there had been suggestions to reclassify Bake Off to allow it to be funded under the entertainment tariff, which tops out at around £300K per episode.
Word has it the BBC substantially increased the amount they were willing to pay but Love balked, walking away from the discussions today (though in an internal memo the indie’s execs denied that money was the key motivation). There is some hope from BBC execs that this is not the end of the road for The Great British Bake Off on the corporation and may perhaps be a negotiating tactic. Love, however, is stating that there was no chance that the decision could be reversed.
“Working with Love Productions, we have grown and nurtured the programme over seven series and created the huge hit it is today. We made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money. The BBC’s resources are not infinite”, a representative of the BBC said in a statement. “GBBO is a quintessentially BBC programme. We hope Love Productions change their mind so that Bake Off can stay ad free on BBC One”.