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U.K. Magazine The Big Issue Launches Documentary SVOD Service (EXCLUSIVE)

Naman Ramachandran
·3-min read

U.K. magazine The Big Issue has partnered with digital distribution platform Alchimie to launch documentary and factual-focused SVOD channel The Big Issue TV (TBI TV).

The Big Issue is a weekly entertainment and current affairs magazine that provides homeless people across the U.K. legitimate income. These individuals become vendors who buy the publication for £1.50 ($2.09), sell to the public for £3 ($4.18) and then keep the difference. More than 200 million magazines have been sold since launch in 1991, helping some 100,000 needy. During the pandemic, The Big Issue has distributed over £1 million to vendors across the U.K.

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Curated by the magazine’s editorial team, TBI TV features a selection of award-winning documentaries and other factual programming to mirror the ‘big issues’ covered by the magazine. The channel consists of regularly refreshed six thematic playlists chosen from Alchimie’s 60,000 hour library, covering culture, social activism, finances, geopolitics, health and technology and the environment.

The ad-free service is available across all devices for £3.99 ($5.57) monthly. It is powered and monetized by Alchimie’s technology and distributed across its network.

Programming available at launch includes the self-explanatory “Smoke and Fumes: The Climate Change Cover-Up”; “The World According to Amazon,” an examination of the world’s largest online retailer; Arab Spring documentary “A Revolution in Four Seasons”; “Epidemics: The Invisible Threat,” a 2015 documentary eerily prescient about the current pandemic; and “Meeting Snowden,” where Edward Snowden, exiled U.S. whistleblower, meets civil rights campaigners Birgitta Jonsdottir and Larry Lessig.

Russell Blackman, managing director of The Big Issue, said: “COVID changed everything for The Big Issue and our vendors. The launch of TBI TV is yet another way in which we are adapting and innovating in an ever-changing landscape to grow our reach, influence and impact in order to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

“As part of our commitment to digital growth, TBI TV will build a new audience, raise awareness of issues that matter, and inspire viewers to take action,” Blackman added. “It will also help drive alternative sources of income to The Big Issue that will allow us to continue to provide the essential services and support to vendors, which they desperately need.”

Barry Llewellyn, managing director of Alchimie U.K., said: “Big Issue TV may house challenging, provocative programming but it is the ultimate feel-good TV with the potential to reach to a whole country of subscribers and generate much needed income for the organization, the homeless and the vulnerably housed, particularly during this very difficult COVID pandemic.”

Alchimie’s catalog is drawn from some 300 partners including Arte, France TV distribution and ZDF Enterprises. The platform partners with talents, brands and media groups to create new channels, which include Cultivons-Nous, Army Stories, Jacques Attali, Poisson Fécond, Vaughan and Michael Rowe. These are distributed on more than 60 distribution platforms such as TVPlayer, Amazon, Orange, Movistar, Samsung and Huawei.

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