BBC Studios Launching Ad-Free BBC Select in U.S

BBC Select Reggie Yates in China
BBC Select will have shows including 'Reggie Yates in China' (Image credit: BBC)

BBC Studios is entering the streaming war with BBC Select, an ad-free subscription channel launching in early 2021 in the U.S. and Canada.

BBC Select will have programs about culture, politics and ideas. Many of the shows will be exclusive premieres for audiences in the U.S. and Canada.

Some of the BBC’s well-known nature programs are part of Discovery Plus, which launches Jan. 5.

“For nearly a century, the BBC has been synonymous with extraordinary television programs – full stop. Name any genre, the BBC is best in class at identifying talent and providing them a platform for expression,” said Rebecca Glashow, president, BBC Studios – Americas. “As we shift our business focus to engaging our fans direct, the digital space offers us the opportunity to bring audiences a portfolio of shows that bring new ideas and perspectives into the conversation. Our research has shown that audiences are looking for an alternative to what is already out there. BBC Select is it.” 

Some of programs being show exclusively on BBC Select are:

Shock of the Nude, hosted by Professor of Classics Mary Beard, gives a personal and provocative take on the nude in western art, from ancient Greece to the present, and asks why artists and viewers seem so obsessed by nudity;

Reggie Yates in China sees actor, DJ, and presenter Reggie Yates travel to four very different cities in China to discover the new fault-lines in society and how they affect a generation who have grown up with seemingly more freedom than that of any other in the last 70 years; 

In Search of Frida Kahlo follows musician Emeli Sandé - who was inspired by the paintings of Kahlo when writing her album - as she visits Mexico City to tell the story of one of Mexico’s most famous artists;

Fall of an Icon explores the life of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who after 15 years of house arrest was celebrated as an icon of democracy. But years on, she is now seen by many as an international pariah; 

Mystery of the Missing Princess tells the story of Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who attempted to escape from torture and imprisonment at the hands of her father;

Putin – A Russian Spy Story is the portrait of a politician who modelled himself on the Russian James Bond and whose presidency reads like a spy thriller; and

The Last Igloo follows a lone Inuit as he hunts, fishes, and constructs an igloo. It tells the story of skills that are disappearing and of how climate change is affecting the lives of Greenland's indigenous people.

“BBC Select is for those who crave knowledge, new perspectives, and programs that are not your standard fare,” said Louise la Grange, general manager & launch director. “BBC Select will combine a rich line up of never-before-seen shows in the U.S. and Canada with a prized portfolio of thought-provoking, eye-opening programs that provide context and color to the world we all share - all in one place.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.