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The Great British Brand Off: How to overpay for a tent and a concept

by Robbie Jones on 10-Oct-2016 12:05:00

The Great British Brand Off - Great British Bake Off 2016 move from BBC to Channel 4

2016's The Great British Bake Off will be remembered for one thing only - the year that it was announced it would move from the BBC to Channel 4. If you're not part of the 13.5 million people that have watched the show and story unfold this summer, here's a potted history of what's happened...

  • Love Productions created The Great British Bake Off  TV concept and pitched it to the BBC - they loved it and aired the first series in 2010.
  • Half way through the airing of the seventh series and Love Productions announce that they have agreed a three-year deal worth £75 million with Channel 4.
  • The BBC reveal that they were originally paying £7 million per year to air the show, but were prepared to pay more than double (£15 million) per year to keep the show. Love Productions declined this offer.
  • Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and head judge Mary Berry announce they will not be joining the show when it moves to Channel 4. Only fellow head judge Paul Hollywood decided to say 'yes' to the move.

While many fans and onlookers have been quick to criticise either the greed of the production company, or the BBC for allowing the show to slip from their grasp, from a brand perspective, this is a fascinating story - and one which I wanted to unpick.

So what does £75 million buy you?

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Well on the face of it... Channel 4 have bought a tent, twelve mini kitchens, hard leftover pieces of cake, and an ever-grumpier Paul Hollywood - for three years. But in reality, when it comes to buying television shows, it boils down to three simple things: the concept, the brand, and the talent. But we know three-quarters of the talent are to stay with the BBC, so we'll just concentrate on 'the concept' and 'the brand'.

The concept

Love Productions will have some sort of agreement/trademark in place that allows no other production company to 'copy' the concept of the show. While this is in place for most high profile TV shows, it doesn't cover any concepts that are similar to the original show - something the BBC are looking to exploit next year with former Bake Off stars Giedroyc, Perkins and Berry.

Channel 4 will be the home of the new series of The Great British Bake Off.

The brand

The brand is the most powerful and valuable asset Love Productions has to leverage the cost of The Great British Bake Off. The show has become a national institution, a big cog in the wheel of our summer television habits and the voice of home baking that pleases millions of viewers every week. Combined with an abundance of social media followers and seven TV awards in the bag, including two BAFTAs, and Love Productions has cooked up a brand worthy of a larger slice of our TV licensing fee.

It is this combination of a winning concept and established British brand that has had an affect around the world, and not just on inflating the price Channel 4 paid for the show. Believe it or not, but Love Productions have managed to sell the British show to another 196 countries, including the US - as well as licensing the show to another twenty countries to do their own version. Kerching!

That, my friends, is the power of a concept and a brand.

The theory behind brand influence

OK, so it's clear that The Great British Bake Off brand has certainly played a key role in the higher costs demanded by Love Productions to air the show, but how has brand become to be such an expensive thing for something that is completely intangible.

Today, a business' most valuable assets aren't those listed on a balance sheet; it's the intangible assets, such as brand, human capital, and customer relationships that count towards a company's valuation.

This growing importance of brand was highlighted by intellectual property experts, Ocean Tomo who found that intangible assets now account for 84% of the market value of companies on the S&P 500 Index. Almost a five-fold increase compared to forty years ago.

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With this astonishing rise in the influence of a brand in business, it is no wonder why other businesses, such as television production companies, are using this to their advantage to gain better revenue and success in their industry.

Discover if your brand is still relevant and competitive. Read more >

Love Productions, alongside the BBC, have been careful to nurture the Bake Off brand, keeping it relevant, engaging and interesting to the millions that watch for three months of the year - without overselling and over-exposing the brand when it isn't necessarily needed.

So, who's actually won here?

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Between Channel 4, BBC, and Love Productions, there have been a lot of smug faces as they battle it out in the public domain to secure ultimate supremacy on the done deal. But who has actually won here?

Channel 4

While I have the uppermost respect for Love Productions for valuing their biggest brand at it's peak, my opinion is that Channel 4 may have paid well over the odds to secure the show for £75 million over three years. Especially when we know that the BBC have paid less than that for the seven previous series combined.

But, this may be the step-change Channel 4 needs to be seen alongside the BBC and ITV as the main players of British television. The channel's highest viewing figures in 2015 were when 8.9 million tuned in to watch the one-off Grand National horse race - over 4 million less than the average figures for The Great British Bake Off.

Channel 4 stands to gain a significant amount of new viewers, as well as prestige for being home to a top 'branded' TV show.

BBC

Content with letting the show go, the BBC have been gracious in defeat and been very transparent in saying that they weren't prepared to meet the new and inflated price for the show's TV rights. Whilst we all know of the cost-cutting plight the BBC is under, it would seem easy to criticise the broadcaster for not having the financial clout required to keep one of its top shows.

However, the BBC is in the best position to see how The Great British Bake Off will develop in the future. This, the seventh series, has not hit the heights of other predecessors with a lower quality group of bakers, and some strange 'themed weeks', for example, "Botanical Week" and "Tudor Week".

If they believe, like me, that the show has hit its peak, the BBC have reaped the rewards of a wonderful show over seven years, have three of the four main protagonists of the show remaining loyal to the broadcaster, AND they are working on a similar show that will certainly cost less.

Love Productions

Similar to an MBO or takeover in the business world, Love Productions has seen the value of their assets and used it to secure their business' future. I suspect, like the BBC, that Love Productions knows the show has hit its peak, and this is their final contract to milk the remainders of the concept and brand until it falls by the wayside.

Even if they believe there is a long-term future for the show still, the production company have done well to secure a deal that will ensure they continue to produce great quality reality and cookery shows that resonate with millions of viewers long into the future.

 Learnings from the Bake Off tent

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So what have we learned from this delve into the Bake Off's brand? We've learned that brand really has played an important role in the consideration, negotiation, and selling of the Bake Off TV show. The brand has been nurtured over the last seven years, ensuring millions of viewers engaged and were interested in the show and spin-off assets that were produced.

The next steps now are for Love Productions and Channel 4 to continue to let the show rise without sinking and burning in the pressure cooker that is television. Will you be tuning in next year to watch the Bake Off on Channel 4, or will you boycott?

Maybe it's too early to say, but let's not hope Channel 4 haven't widely overpaid for a tent and a concept.

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This post was written by Robbie Jones

Robbie is Marketing Lead at Katapult, here to devise brilliant marketing campaigns for clients, while telling terrible puns in the office.

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