BBC Worldwide has stepped up its push to reach new audiences in Asia, launching BBC First as an on-demand premium drama offering in Singapore, ahead of a broader rollout across the region.
BBC First, which includes day-and-date transmission for some titles, as well as boxsets of some franchises, will go live on StarHub on April 4 via the cable and pay-TV group’s basic entertainment HD upsize tier.
It will also be available on the premium tier of StarHub Go, StarHub’s SVOD platform.
Meanwhile, current general entertainment offering BBC Entertainment will go off the air in Singapore, with some of its non-drama programming moving over to sibling channel, BBC Lifestyle.
First’s launch in Singapore, incorporating dramas from the US as well as the UK, represents the latest phase in an ongoing bid by the BBC to strengthen its appeal among international viewers.
Last year, BBC Knowledge was rebooted with a tighter factual positioning as BBC Earth, with some former Knowledge programming also moved onto BBC Lifestyle.
In a similar vein, First will also showcase big-budget productions.
“We are going after all drama lovers, we are really trying to expand the base,” Monty Ghai, SVP and GM of BBC Worldwide Southeast Asia, tells Media Business Asia.
“We think this will travel well, but we need to work on the discoverability of some of our content,” Ghai adds. “That is something we are working on now.”
That means a marketing push around titles that may be less well known to mainstream audiences, as well as a focus on recommendation and program marketing in the non-linear space.
First will be followed by more targeted services, also designed for on-demand consumption, based on audience segmentation research carried out by the BBC worldwide over the last two years.
BBC First also exists as a linear channel in Australia, as well as some markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and as a programming block in Japan.