BBC Studios Scripted MD Mark Linsey has said the production community “needs to think about how to make drama and comedy at a lower tariff” amidst a tricky economic situation.
Linsey, who relocated to LA last year, described the state of the global scripted market as “incredibly challenging,” citing the U.S. strikes, broader economic strife and the difficulties in attracting financing.
“We all know about challenges to costs of production and that is real and hasn’t gone away in drama,” said Linsey at Content London. “As a community we have to think about how we are going to create drama and comedy at a lower tariff as financing gets more challenging.”
Linsey said partnerships are even more key in the current market. He had a readymade example in the shape of the supercharged Doctor Who, which has brought Disney+ on board as co-producer for the upcoming series, paired with a hefty budget increase. The first of a trio of anniversary specials launched last weekend.
Responding to a question on whether there is opportunity for European producers in the UK, BBC Studios productions boss Ralph Lee said the local market has been “really hard” in the past 18 months.
“For producers trying to get ideas into the UK studio system it is really tough because of the creative sector here and relationship between supply and demand,” said Lee. “There is a lot of supply and we all know the market in the last 18 months has been really hard. All those producers are looking to work in the same space and it’s very competitive.”
More partnerships akin to BBC Studios’ natural history co-production deal with Germany’s ZDF are incoming, however, Lee said.
Matt Forde, who recently took over BBC Studios’ newly-minted global entertainment arm, said producers have to think “differently and entrepreneurially” to overcome the strife, citing Death in Paradise spin-off Return to Paradise for Australia’s ABC.
Forde, who has shepherded BBC Studios’ high-profile Lionsgate deal over the past few years, acknowledged the slowing market as “SVoDs think again about how much they want to invest” but said there are positives, such as the fact that less and less talent are now tied to long-term deals with the big U.S. giants.
“When lots of talent were on large overhead deals it was challenging but I think not just in the U.S. but elsewhere there will be more opportunities for us,” he added.