The hit series has so far been available across a number of digital platforms in the Middle Kingdom, with BBC Worldwide looking to expand the franchise’s fan base further with the new agreement.
BBC Worldwide on Thursday said it has signed a deal with China’s Shanghai Media Group Pictures, the film business unit of Oriental Pearl Group, owned by Shanghai Media Group, for the entire catalog of hit franchise Doctor Who and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expand the fan base of the show brand in the Middle Kingdom.
The agreement covers showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat’s seasons 1-10, incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall’s yet-to-film season 11, a first look for seasons 12-15 and Doctor Who spin-offs Torchwood and Class.
Doctor Who has previously been available across a number of digital platforms in China, including Youku, LeTV and BesTV, which is Shanghai Media Group’s linear TV service. Those deals will remain in place until they expire. The new licensing deal with SMGP marks the first time that the whole Doctor Who catalog, including future shows, has been licensed to one company in China.
SMGP is expected to announce at a later point where the Doctor Who content will be available, with the partners mentioning plans to bring it to “popular TV channels and on-demand platforms all over China.”
BBC Worldwide and Oriental Pearl Group previously worked together on the theatrical release of Sherlock – The Abominable Bride, as well as the upcoming launch of One Amazing Day, a co-production with SMG Pictures. BesTV also recently launched the entire catalog of Top Gear, Top Gear UK, five seasons of Top Gear USA, six seasons of Top Gear Korea and both seasons of Top Gear China.
The Doctor Who memorandum of understanding also calls for the partners to explore future opportunities as well as exchange expertise. The deal was inked Wednesday evening at a signing ceremony at BBC Worldwide’s Television Center in London with Chen Sijie, general manager of SMGP, and Jaclyn-Lee Joe, chief marketing officer, BBC Worldwide. Wang Jianjun, director general president of Shanghai Media Group, Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide and Kelvin Yau, general manager, Greater China of BBC Worldwide, also attended the event.
“This marks the start of a longer and even more fruitful partnership with SMGP,” said Joe. “Doctor Who already has a substantial fan base in China. Now, Chinese fans will be able to access the entire catalog of Doctor Who and its spin-offs thanks to this agreement. The MOU is an affirmation of both parties’ commitment to build the Doctor Who brand and grow its fan base in China.”
“China is going through a time of tremendous growth and rapid market development. Everyone here is curious about popular cultures around the world. At the same time, they want to share their Chinese culture and values,” said Chen. “Doctor Who, with its long television history and iconic place in popular culture, is a great representative of British pop culture. We hope that this partnership with BBC Worldwide will enable both parties, as well as Chinese and British fans to share and exchange ideas and learnings to grow the universe of Doctor Who in China.”
BBC Worldwide and Oriental Pearl Group previously worked together on the theatrical release of Sherlock – The Abominable Bride as well as the upcoming launch of One Amazing Day a co-production with SMG Pictures. The entire catalogue of Top Gear, Top Gear UK and all the UK specials, as well as five series of Top Gear USA, six series of Top Gear Korea and both series of Top Gear China has also recently launched on BesTV, SMG’s linear television service. There has also been a CBeebies programming block on BesTV since 2014.