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The Great British Bake-Off (known for legal reasons as The Great British Baking Show in North America) is a critically-acclaimed baking competition TV series most recently starring hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas (recently replacing Sandi Toksvig), and judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.
- The only authorized carrier of new seasons of GBBO in Canada is CBC, not Netflix.
- All seasons up to and including series (or season) 11 (which aired in 2020 on Channel 4 UK and Netflix US) are available in full on CBC Gem (the streaming service) as of October 2021.
- The CBC's usual practice has been to debut new seasons of the British series the summer after they air in the UK. As such, we currently expect that season 12 (airing in fall 2021 in the UK / US) will not be available in Canada until summer 2022.
The series began airing in the UK on the BBC in 2010. PBS stations in the United States began airing the program in 2014; these broadcasts were also available to many viewers in Canada. CBC Television has been the official first-run home of the series in Canada since 2016, when it aired the sixth series (series in this context being British for "season") produced in 2015, and launching a Canadian spin-off, The Great Canadian Baking Show, in 2017. (Most past seasons of the British program are available on CBC's Gem streaming service, and can sometimes also be found on other Canadian channels like Makeful.)
After the producers, Love Productions, decided to move the UK broadcasts of the series from the commercial-free BBC to the publicly-owned but commercially-funded Channel 4, things became a bit more complicated. The CBC maintained its rights, which were acquired from Love Productions' current international distributor Sky Vision. However, PBS had apparently acquired U.S. rights from BBC Worldwide, and it seems these rights did not carry over to the Channel 4 series.
Netflix was eventually able to acquire U.S. rights to the full series, and beginning in 2019, the service would add episodes of that year's series 10 to its U.S. catalogue within days of their UK broadcasts. (On Netflix U.S., this is called "Collection 7", for consistency with how PBS had ordered its seasons.)
This practice continued for series 11 ("Collection 8"), and series 12 ("Collection 9"), which debuted in fall 2021:
But Netflix does not have worldwide rights to Bake-Off, and while it's an Internet-based service, it is required by copyright owners to use geoblocking to limit access to acquired programs like GBBO to the countries it has been able to license the streaming rights for. Currently, if you access Netflix from Canada, you will not be able to access these episodes, or any episodes of the British series. (You can, however, find past seasons of The Great Canadian Baking Show there; these rights are shared with CBC Gem.)
Meanwhile, CBC has held onto the Canadian rights, and is maintaining its pattern of airing series the year after their British airings. In fact, the CBC waited more than a year after the August 2019 UK debut of series 10 to release the season in Canada, specifically on Friday, October 9, 2020.
In September 2020, we reached out to a CBC representative for clarification about their scheduling plans for GBBS, and received the following statement:
The timing for new seasons of The Great British Baking Show across CBC platforms is subject to scheduling, programming and budget considerations - whether launching on CBC TV or CBC Gem - as well as restrictions on how much foreign content CBC (as Canada's national public broadcaster) can launch on its main network. Season 10's timing was additionally impacted by COVID-19 and shifts in the NHL schedule. Planning at this stage would likely see a launch of Season 11 on CBC TV and CBC Gem in summer 2021 (subject to change).
Indeed, the Canadian public broadcaster aired series 11 on Sunday nights from August to October 2021; the full season is now available to stream on CBC Gem.
We have seen no indication in the intervening time that the CBC intends to change its scheduling of GBBS to align with the UK/US releases, which would imply that series 12 will mostly likely not be officially available in Canada until summer 2022.
Based on the statement above, it seems this is a schedule that works well for the CBC. In the meantime, Canadians will have to continue being careful to avoid spoilers.
If you have feedback about the CBC's scheduling practices, you may wish to consider contacting their audience relations department.
- October 17, 2021 – updated throughout to reflect the CBC's broadcast of season 11 in summer/fall 2021, and the debut of season 12 in the UK and US