One of the recurring themes during the IBC2018 Conference was partnerships and the importance of striking deals to boost reach and the range of content that can be made available to viewers and consumers.

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BBC CEO Tim Davie

During his opening keynote address, BBC Studios CEO Tim Davie spoke about Britbox – BBCS’ US SVoD joint venture with ITV – and how it had passed the 400,000 subscriber mark within 18 months of launch. 

“We are not trying to beat Netflix in the market, because that might not work,” he joked. “But we saw a brilliant partnership opportunity with [US broadcaster] AMC among ex-pats,” he said.

Closer to home is the issue of a potential collaboration with ITV and Channel 4 on an SVoD service to take on Netflix and Amazon.

While Davie admitted that some kind of collaboration was necessary, he hinted that BBC and C4’s public service remit might make a joint VoD venture complicated.

“I’m always interested in partnerships but the UK is different. Public service broadcasting is not without its complexities.”

Later, Netflix Vice President of Business Development EMEA Maria Ferreras told delegates that “striking partnership deals with pay-TV and telco operators has helped Netflix take its subscriber numbers to the next level”.

She said the key reason for the company’s growth is the “resilient partnerships” it has struck pay-TV and telco operators. The deals, she said, have helped the streaming service “take it to the next level in terms of [subscriber] numbers and countries”.

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WPP CTO Lindsay Pattison

And GroupM and WPP Chief Transformation Officer Lindsay Pattison explained that advertisers want content creators and broadcasters to partner more with the digital giants.

She said: “We want to be good partners with digital players as well as traditional broadcasters.”

Amazon exec Fabrice Rousseau tells IBC that ‘TV is the most important space’ for Alexa, but Channel 4 says any voice partnership must involve sharing viewer search data.

While Discovery announced it is seeking to build audiences globally by super-serving sports fans, said Discovery Networks International (DNI) President and CEO Jean-Briac Perrette.

Elsewhere, Perrette declined to comment on a possible partnership with BBC Studios that was mentioned by BBC Studios Chief Executive Tim Davie in his morning keynote session.

He said competition among broadcasters remains healthy, adding: “We are going to have to figure out ways to partner with more people who we might have historically said are traditional competitors.”