Sleeping giant: the balancing act strategy of the BBC

15 March, 2023

The BBC has a unique position as a worldwide-reaching Public Service Broadcaster with an unrivalled portfolio. While it has become one of the most powerful and influential platforms in the world, the BBC often chooses a more modest strategy, earning it the title of sleeping giant. 

In this article, we will look at the highlights of the BBC strategy, discussing its success in producing content for its own platform, and in partnership with other companies to expand its broadcasting empire.

Presence at the Global Demand Awards

BBC’s success as a content producer is reflected in its prominent presence among winners and nominees of Parrot Analytics’ Global Demand Awards. 

Just this year, there were multiple titles present. One of them was the winner of the European Original category, Peaky Blinders.


Following the story of gangster Tommy Shelby and his family in early 20th-century England, the series has captured a large audience. It was the 8th most in-demand series worldwide for the 2022 year, registering 51.8x the average. 

Being the winner among European original series, the show has not only been successful in the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Germany, but also way beyond the European market - succeeding in places such as Brazil, India, and Australia.


Doctor Who, another BBC title, was competing against Peaky Blinders in the same category. The long-spanning fantasy series recorded 25.8x the demand average over 2022. The show had already been nominated for the Global Demand Awards in 2021.


Aside from its home market, the series has been successful in countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as beyond Europe, in markets such as Australia, Canada and Brazil.

A third BBC title nominated this year was the female-led spy thriller Killing Eve. The series was competing in the TV Series Book Adaptation category.


Starring Sandra Oh, the series recorded 28x the Demand average globally over the last year. In terms of markets, the series performed well in the United States (19.4x) and the United Kingdom (14.9x), as well as Brazil (10.2x), China (9.7x) and Russia in 2022 (9.3x).

BBC titles have also been present at the awards in prior years. In 2021, the documentary A Perfect Planet was nominated for the Most In-Demand Documentary Series.


Presented by David Attenborough, the show recorded high levels of demand in markets such as China, the United Kingdom, France, and Sweden.

Partnership Strategy

In her interview with Brandon Katz for Parrot Analytics, Rebecca Glashow, CEO of Global Distribution for BBC Studios, highlights that an important aspect of the company's strategy is partnerships. According to her, as the BBC produces a wide variety of content, part of the strategy is finding the right home for each production. “For us, making that partnership to get behind the content IP helps establish the right home,” points out Glashow.

As an example, she cites Bluey - a children’s program produced and distributed by the BBC along with the Australian Community Media - that premiered on Disney Junior in 2018. According to the Glashow, one of the reasons why the programme was produced and released as a partnership is the size of the investment children’s programming demands. “It takes nurturing. It’s rare to get a hit right out of the gate,” comments Glashow, as she reiterates how satisfied they are with the show's accomplishments.


Now available on Disney+, Bluey has been hot with audiences. Over 2022, it earned 13x the demand average, placing it among the top 25 most popular children’s series worldwide that year. Furthermore, among the most popular markets for the title were the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as Spain, Australia and Russia.

Another partnership endeavour by the BBC has been the streaming service BritBox. It was developed with the British commercial broadcaster ITV and launched in 2017.


Among the series airing on the platform, the most in-demand title is Sanditon. The series recorded 5.6x the demand average in 2022.

Producing original content

On the other hand, Glashow explains that the BBC strategy is a balancing act that also calls for producing and delivering original content. According to her, the BBC carefully chooses what pieces of content will be externally supplied and which ones will be kept in-house, based on how they can win outside their home market. Many of the series that the company has chosen to develop independently are the ones that cater to the loyal United Kingdom audience.

Parrot Analytics data gives us insight into the demand for the most popular shows on the network. The leading titles are previously mentioned shows such as Peaky BlindersKilling Eve and Doctor Who.


Looking further down the list we have Sherlock and His Dark MaterialsSherlock, which presents Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters in a modern setting, registered over 21.7x the demand average during the year. In tandem, His Dark Materials is a series adapted from a fantasy book series. The show earned 18.3x the demand average in 2022.

Also among the most popular titles was Top Gear. The non-fiction programme, which deals with all things related to cars, earned 15.2x the demand over the year.

The next most in-demand BBC original was Fleabag. The hit comedy-drama series starred and was produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, also the producer of Killing Eve. The show recorded 17.6x the demand average over the period.

Finally, Doctor Who Confidential, a Doctor Who behind-the-scenes docu-series, and the black comedy Inside No. 9 recorded exceptional demand in 2022. While the former garnered 13x the demand average, the latter registered 12.6x the average.


The BBC has been one of the key providers of content within the European market, with a catalogue that ranges from innovative programming to loyally-loved classic series. With a strategy that is balanced between partnerships and in-house productions, it has transcended its home market to become a truly global powerhouse. BBC’s success is reflected in its titles’ presence in the Global Demand Awards, as well as its titles being among the most popular worldwide. From its unique standpoint on the global market, the BBC continues to captivate audiences around the world.

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