BBC America is BBC's main US service. It is owned and operated by BBC Worldwide, although Discovery Communications handles some distribution functions. It is funded by advertising, like most BBC international services.
BBC America carries a significant amount of news content per day - all of it simulcast on BBC World. This is unusual for a cable channel that is not dedicated to news. However, BBC America management - particularly in recent years - has stressed that news is one of the most important parts of the BBC and has sought to leverage this.
BBC America's initial presentation was designed to closely emulate that of BBC One - from the balloons to the trailers, even to the channel voice. The DOG was designed to fit to BBC's international branding standards. The emulation was not perfect, at least not by 2001 - the trailer font was not Gill Sans, for example. Continuity was limited to a canned "This is BBC America", save for news, which managed to get a pre-recorded "Now, live from London, the BBC World News" announcement. The ident selection, too, seems to have been limited somewhat by 2001, with only a few in regular usage.
BBC America changed its presentation style in April 2005 with a new set of idents, the news ident is more subdued than the other ones the channel uses.
Design firm mOcean was commissioned to create a new look for BBC America in early 2007, moving away from the predominantly white motif. For the first time, BBC America had its own separate logo - sort of. While the now-familiar BBC boxes remained the official logo, a red/white/blue "target-A" was introduced. The logo would prominently feature in idents (now mostly relegated to advert breaks) and promotions, being used as often as the BBC America logo itself. The look was finely executed and featured impressive CGI logo animation - particularly the main ident - but lasted just a few months.
Problems surface when a closer look is taken. The presence of an additional logo served to dilute the channel identity, not enhance it, especially when its use was haphazard - some promotions did not use the target-A at all, and some idents did not feature the words "BBC America" anywhere. More obviously, however, was the logo design itself. The logo was said to represent a bullseye target - but intentionally or not, the logo strongly resembles that of ABC. It is unknown whether this played a factor in its rather sudden removal.
By Spring, the circle-A was erased from presentation, and a bare-bones, predominantly red look was put into place to coincide with a huge schedule overhaul. Many classic programmes were dropped, and nights were now themed: "Tuesday Nitro", "Sci-Fi Saturday", etc. The network logo has been split to two lines, with a much bigger BBC logo than before - perhaps a subtle realization of where the channel's brand equity lies...?
Following is a selection of idents from the Spring 2007 - Spring 2008 period. If nothing else, these designs are quite creative, taking some surprising approaches to the BBCA brand.
BBC America's presentation was brought into line with BBC One on April 28, 2008. Promotional style, typeface, and graphics are once again identical to that used in the UK. Idents and presentation are produced in 16x9, but shown 4x3 letterboxed - an HD simulcast of BBC America is to launch later in the year.
BBC One's idents have also been adapted for the new look, and most of them seem to have been adapted with the exception of "Penguins" and "Neon". Several edits of each ident - including the full BBC One examples - have been created, but in many cases time-edited versions are aired. Initially, the slogan "One World" featured in the idents - with the same placement and font used for BBC One's logo. As of May 2008, the slogan has been removed from all idents.
The short variants of many of the idents are presented below. A majority of the BBC One idents have made the transition over to America - a far cry from the balloons, where only a few of them were adapted.
BBC News on BBC America
BBC America has carried BBC News programming from its inception, simulcast from BBC World. Originally, these consisted of several scattered hour or half-hour blocks of BBC World each day - and as the channel aged, the amount of these blocks dwindled somewhat. However, from 2006 news programming became much more prominent, and BBC America began to put more promotion and funding towards the bulletins. Consequently, the BBC America simulcasts began to be more explicitly aimed at American audiences - particularly the early evening bulletin, which now originated from Washington. In 2007, that bulletin was relaunched as BBC World News America, with Matt Frei anchoring from Washington and Rome Hartman (formerly of CBS) executive producing.
Currently, BBC World airs a three hour simulcast in mornings, from 6:00 ET to 9:00 ET - this includes George Alagiah's World News Today. At 7:00 ET, BBC World News America, BBC America's "newscast of record" with Matt Frei airs. As of 29 February 2008, a new weekly version of BBC2's "Newsnight" airs on Friday evenings.