The Five Spot: Rebecca Glashow, CEO, Global Distribution, BBC Studios

Rebecca Glashow
Rebecca Glashow (Image credit: BBC Studios)

At a young age, Rebecca Glashow learned a lesson from her father, Sheldon, a Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist: If you do what you love, you’ll live a long, happy life.

Glashow loved television — not exactly a science, but she did discover there was an industry behind the scenes in which she could have a career. She started as an assistant at Unapix. “My claim to fame is we passed on Kissing Jessica Stein and The Blair Witch Project,” she recalled. At Unapix, she saw how programming makes money. “I learned the life cycle of content and it really served me well through my career,” she said.

That career has taken her to In Demand, Comcast, Discovery, Awesomeness, Viacom and now to BBC Studios, where in February she was promoted to CEO, Global Distribution

Glashow talked with Broadcasting+Cable business editor Jon Lafayette in an interview that has been edited for space.

What makes the BBC unique in an era of global media? The BBC has always been in the global business in a truly authentic way. In some ways, we invented the global model. We were supplying quality content across natural history, scripted, formats, comedy and news to some of the largest channel partners in the world, long before the streaming giants realized they should conquer the globe.

Bonus Five

Rebecca Glashow and family in South Africa

(Image credit: Rebecca Glashow)

What shows are you recording on your DVR? My DVR is in retirement these days.

All-time favorite TV show? The Americans. My all-time favorite BBC show is Luther.

Next destinations on your bucket list? My family and I just returned from South Africa (pictured), which was top of the list. Next stop Israel.

Is there a favorite app you're using either at work or home? We are a two-parent working household with three kids, Cozi is the app that manages our lives.

Recent memorable meal? When I was promoted, my husband surprised me by bringing my parents down from Boston and having a chef cater a meal at home.  After these past two years of isolation, to have a home-cooked meal with my family was a huge treat. So was not having to clean up afterward.

The BBC itself is setting up its own streaming outlets. Why? Our brand is unique, despite not putting much into marketing or brand-building over the years. Both the brand and our IP [intellectual property] ownership really allows us to lean into all the new business models. We’ve placed some bets where we feel we can compete. One is with BBC Select, a documentary service. We have been delivering in that category for many decades. BritBox, which is a JV with ITV, is about bringing independent British drama into the marketplace. There’s a huge appetite for that content and no clear home for it. With our library, we’ve been able to build out quite a few [free, ad-supported TV or FAST] channels with Antiques Roadshow and classic Doctor Who. And recently we sold exclusive rights to Sherlock to Crackle Plus.

What’s new and hot from BBC Studios? It’s almost impossible to have a breakthrough preschool brand, but Bluey is one of the most exciting brands we have. It originated out of Australia and is one of the top shows on Disney Plus. It’s also a breakthrough in the consumer-product space, competing with longtime brands like Paw Patrol. It’s a transformative representation of family dynamics and parenting that is probably going to be raising kids for decades.

BBC Studios produces Dancing with the Stars. What’s up with the move to Disney Plus from ABC? We are fully supportive. Their ability to bring that audience to a streaming platform is paramount to them. They also announced that this is for multiple seasons, so we’re going to be in business for some time on that show. We’re seeing the strongest numbers you can see on broadcast television, but that’s not a growing platform. Our job is to deliver audience to our partners, so we have to remain platform-agnostic because we have to follow the audiences.

What do you do for fun? I have three school-age children, but I run marathons. I just signed up for the New York City Marathon for charity. I do it for charity because that keeps me accountable to a lot of people. Most of my life is about winning. Marathon running is really humbling, something in your life where it’s about the process and the accomplishment and not about the prize. Or the win. My one win is in our last race, I ran it faster than my brother. ▪️

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.