Channel 4’s hunt for a National Treasure is over
GBBO’s move to C4 is a strategy come full circle.
Hit show, The Great British Bake Off, produced by TV company Love Productions, is headed to Channel 4 as of next year. The BBC announced on its own news channel, that the quaint baking show would no longer air on BBC1, owing to Love Productions’ demand to renew the contract for no less than £25m.
A shame, but hardly surprising. Channel 4 itself experienced a shock steal of a much loved ‘national treasure’ programme, when it lost the Grand National horse racing competition to ITV in January 2016. It could be said that the broadcaster has been looking for a suitable replacement ever since.
A lot has been said about the quintessentially BBC vibe of Bake Off, known to Twitter fans as #GBBO. It is relatively inoffensive, fun, polite and taps into the Middle England type of viewing that the BBC, colloquially called Auntie, is famous for.
Channel 4 on the other hand, airs a show called Sex Box after the watershed, where contestants have sex in an opaque box and then give a review to a live audience straight afterwards. The two broadcasters do not operate in the same realm.
It is this gap that Channel 4 are seeking to close, perhaps. Channel 4 is publicly owned, like the BBC, but not publicly funded. They rely on advertising revenue to buy the risky, hard hitting programming they have become famous for. The Bake Off is an advertising opportunity not to be missed. The show consistently draws in big ratings, with 15 million people tuning into the 2015 finale. A ready made successful show, huge ad revenue potential, and the money to spend, the deal was likely sewn up ahead of time.
It is doubtful that the format will change very much, as it is this to which the show owes much of its popularity. Bake Off fans will at least have time to try their hands at baking along during the ad breaks.