Amazon is sponsoring the hugely popular U.K. TV show "The Great British Bake Off" in a deal reportedly worth £5 million ($7.03 million), broadcaster Channel 4 announced.
The tech company will push its Echo smart speakers and digital assistant Alexa as part of the sponsorship, according to a statement on Channel 4's website. Previous show sponsors include German baking ingredients company Dr Oetker and Lyle's golden syrup, which together paid a reported £4 million. By comparison, food delivery company Just Eat paid £30 million to sponsor "The X Factor" over two years on rival channel ITV, although it is broadcast in a prime Saturday-night slot and "Bake Off" is shown mid-week.
"Bake Off" is one of the U.K.'s most watched shows, where amateur cooks face various baking challenges, before being judged by cookery school founder Prue Leith and bread expert Paul Hollywood. The judges are supported by two presenters, broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and comedian Noel Fielding, and the action takes place over 10 weeks.
The setting is quintessentially English, filmed in the grounds of stately home Welford Park, around 70 miles west of London, in a marquee where contestants' creations are scrutinized by Leith and Hollywood, ever on the lookout for the disastrous "soggy bottom" at the base of a pastry.
"Bake Off" attracts 9 million viewers per episode, Channel 4 said in a statement, with the final show of the 2017 season attracting 11 million, including those who watched via catch-up services. In comparison, the channel's popular series "Gogglebox" was one of its most viewed shows in February 2018, peaking at 3.7 million.
The BBC broadcast "Bake Off" for seven seasons, but in 2017 after a year of negotiations with show creator Love Productions, it switched to rival station Channel 4, which outbid it. Love Productions was said to be looking for £25 million a year in a three-year deal.
Amazon will be hoping that its sponsorship can keep Echo ahead of the likes of Google Home, and its investment will also be contributing to a declining U.K. TV ad market. Businesses spent £5.11 billion on TV ads in 2017, according to marketing body Thinkbox, down 3.2 percent on 2016. Online companies are valuable to British TV, spending £682 million on TV advertising 2017, the most of any type of business.
Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel 4, said in an online statement: "It's a great testimony to the success of Bake Off's debut on Channel 4 last year that Amazon will sponsor the Bake Off program brands this year. We're looking forward to working with Amazon as we build towards the launch of one of the biggest TV events of the year."