The Future of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ in the U.S. is Netflix

The hosts of the Channel 4 version of "The Great British Baking Show": Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, and Prue Leith (Photo: Channel 4/Love Productions)
The new hosts of the Channel 4 version of "The Great British Baking Show": Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, and Prue Leith (Photo: Channel 4/Love Productions)

Anyone who follows popular reality series The Great British Baking Show knows that the series has had something of a complicated airing schedule here in America. And it’s about to get even more so, as the series departs public broadcaster PBS and heads to streaming service Netflix.

What’s going on, exactly? Let’s try to break it down.

In the U.K., reality competition The Great British Baking Show is a monster hit known as The Great British Bake Off. (They had to tweak the name when it came to America due to some copyright issues with Pillsbury. Just go with it.) For the first seven seasons of its life, it aired on the BBC. But in 2017, the owners of the show, Love Productions, decided to head for greener pastures, decamping to rival broadcaster and commercial network Channel 4.  

This move caused quite a bit of internal upheaval behind-the-scenes on the show, as original judge Mary Berry and co-presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins all left the proverbial tent, citing various reasons why. Berry decided to remain loyal to the BBC, while Giedroyc and Perkins were more overtly critical of the producers’ decision to chase a bigger payday via a Channel 4 deal. Judge Paul Hollywood stayed on the show, and to this day remains the only original Bake Off personality involved with the project.

The first season of the revamped Channel 4 Bake Off aired last year, with new judge Prue Leith and new hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding. The show experienced something of a ratings decline post-move, but nothing that was terribly unexpected, given the smaller audience footprint of Channel 4 when compared to the BBC. Despite the dip, it was still a Top 5 performer when time-shifted viewing was factored in, and basically everyone’s pretty happy with it.

Americans, for the most part, were blissfully ignorant of all this business. Why? Well, we’ve been a bit behind.

Bake Off came to America as Baking Show in 2015, but it didn’t exactly start from the beginning. Instead, PBS aired the U.K. Season 5 as Season 1 here in the States, kicking off an occasionally confusing pattern that would continue throughout its run. The U.K Season 4 aired as the U.S. Season 2, Season 6 as Season 3, and Season 7 as Season 4. Once the program switched networks, however, PBS no longer had the rights to air the most current seasons and, as a result, was forced to go back in time a bit, airing the U.K.’s third season as Season 5 here in the States. Whew.  

Now streaming giant Neflix, per The Hollywood Reporter, has scooped up the U.S. rights to the Channel 4 version of The Great British Baking Show, which means that it will be a one stop shop for all your reality baking needs. (It’s been streaming the US seasons of the Baking Show after they aired on PBS for years already.) PBS will no longer air new seasons of the reality competition, and it’s currently not known whether either company will go back and make the first two seasons of the Baking Show – which never aired anywhere in America – available to U.S. audiences. However, it sounds as though the earlier, PBS-aired seasons of Baking Show will remain available to stream on both Netflix and the PBS Passport streaming service, at least for the time being. 

But, still: It’s the end of an era, folks.

Will you still watch The Great British Baking Show once it officially moves to Netflix later this month? Are you even interested in seeing the revamped version of the show that doesn’t feature Mel, Sue or Mary Berry? Let’s discuss it all in the comments.