Channel 4 has kicked-off the search for a sponsor for The Great British Bake-Off with a pitch to more than 350 advertising executives and some of the UK’s biggest spending brands, as the broadcaster looks to rake in more than £25m a year from the biggest show on British TV.
The broadcaster pulled out all the stops for the event, the largest it has ever held to promote an individual show, with two of the programme’s presenters, Paul Hollywood and Pru Leith, roped in to aid the charm offensive held at Channel 4’s London headquarters on Thursday.
Many advertisers are expected to be keen to associate themselves with the showwhich was previously on the BBC. Channel 4 is expected to open the bidding for the headline sponsorship at about £8m.
If a bidding war were to ensue it could eclipse the near-£10m a year that TalkTalk historically paid to sponsor the X Factor.
A deal of £8m-plus – which would also cover sponsorship of spin-offs such as Bake Off Extra Slice, celebrity and Christmas specials and new show Paul Hollywood: A Baker’s Life – would make it one of the most expensive broadcast sponsorship deals on British television.
Only one or two programmes – such as Coronation Street, which airs five days a week – fetch significantly more than the sums being sought for Bake Off.
“It is a massive and very exciting commercial opportunity,” said one senior media agency executive. “It is not just being involved with the shows themselves, it is that everyone talks about it. It is a huge coup for an advertiser. Everyone is looking for that big opportunity, so there will be huge interest.”
Given the show is a household name – 14 million viewers, more than half the viewing public, watched the final of the last series on the BBC, making it the biggest programme of 2016 – Channel 4 could expect to pocket well over £10m in the total sponsorship deal extending beyond TV.
The show, which will launch in the autumn with Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding rounding out the new presenting line-up, will be worth a few more millions in off-air licensing fees for arrangements such as talent appearances and using the Bake Off association in wider marketing and in-store point of sale.
With probably at least a £15m target from commercial break advertising needed for the show to cover the £75m three-year deal for the show, Channel 4 is also seeking to sell ad slots in what is referred to in the trade as a “special”.
This is a premium price for 30-second adverts usually reserved for slots that advertisers “must have”, such as the X Factor final or World Cup football matches featuring England.
Channel 4 will aim to squeeze advertiser demand to the tune of £150,000 to £200,000 for a 30-second slot, compared with a typical peak-time ad price of as much as £120,000. A huge England football fixture, or an X Factor final when the show was in its pomp, could bring in as much as £250,000 per ad.
Bake Off will be the most monetisable franchise for Channel 4 since it axed Big Brother in 2009.
The broadcaster is likely to see a big decline in viewer numbers when the show moves channel, but media industry sources believe Channel 4 can probably get the overall format to break even with as few as 3m viewers on average for the main show.
Many observers believe it is likely to hit 4m to 5m viewers, putting it on roughly the same level as Channel 4’s biggest rating show, Gogglebox.
Overall Channel 4 has up to 40 hours of Bake Off programming a year to cash in on, with the flagship show set to run for 75 minutes, That will be the same 60 minutes of programming as aired by the BBC but extended with ad breaks.
Each episode of the main spin-off, Extra Slice, will run for 60 minutes. Channel 4 has also announced that Jo Brand, who fronted that show for the BBC, is to continue as presenter.
Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4, said: “We’ve been inundated with interest from advertisers keen to get involved with the biggest show on TV. We’re looking forward to working with an exclusive sponsor and a whole host of brands to get creative with their communications around the show to entertain and delight Bake Off viewers.”
Rival ITV has dismissed Channel 4’s huge investment, saying it has paid out for “baking powder and a tent” by failing to secure the BBC’s star line-up when it emerged that Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins ruled out a move.