BBC Studios has appointed former WarnerMedia exec Cecilia Persson to head up its children’s division, which is shifting from being an in-house BBC team to operating under the commercial outfit.
Persson is the second senior Warner exec to join the BBC over the past year, following in the footsteps of Director of Children’s and Education Patricia Hidalgo, as the BBC looks to the commercial opportunities in what has traditionally been a public service genre.
Persson will lead the BBC’s in-house children’s TV department’s transition to being part of commercial outfit BBC Studios, at which point it will be able to produce programming for third parties in line with other BBC Studios divisions such as the Natural History Unit (NHU). The in-house arm is behind BBC kids hits such as CBBC’s Blue Peter and CBeebies’ JoJo & Gran Gran, while BBC Studios distributes global children’s hits including Bluey and Hey Duggee.
Starting next month and reporting into CEO Ralph Lee, Persson will shape a global strategy and work closely with other parts of the business.
Persson spent 15 years at WarnerMedia, most recently serving as VP programming & Content Strategy EMEA, Acquisition & Co-Production International. She left last year as part of a restructure that saw focus shift to streamer HBO Max.
Lee said: “Children’s joining BBC Studios Production is an exciting development full of opportunities, and Cecilia’s passion for the genre, as well as her experience in shaping and implementing strategy in this area, means she is brilliantly positioned to lead the business as it becomes an integral part of BBC Studios next year.”
The move to BBC Studios comprises part of BBC Director General Tim Davie’s push to boost commercial revenues by 30% over the next five years to £1.5BN ($2M). Divisions such as the NHU have been bringing in increased returns for the BBC by making high-budget programming for the likes of Netflix, AppleTV+ and other U.S. networks.