Vice Studios Global President Kate Ward Joins BBC Studios to Oversee Factual Portfolio
The well-respected executive takes on one of the most significant production portfolios in the U.K. industry.
Vice Studios global president Kate Ward is joining BBC Studios to oversee its factual portfolio, Variety can reveal.
Ward has been appointed to the role of managing director for factual at BBC Studios Productions, where she replaces Tom McDonald, who left the company earlier this year to join National Geographic.
With her new role, the well-respected executive — who most recently served as president of global studios and Pulse Films for Vice Media Group — will take on one of the most significant production portfolios in the U.K. industry, spanning the BBC’s Natural History Unit, Documentary Unit and Science Unit. She will also oversee relationships with BBC Studios’ roster of production companies, including Louis Theroux’s Mindhouse Productions, David Olusoga’s Uplands TV and James and Soleta Rogan’s Rogan Productions.
Ward, who starts the role in February 2023, reports into Ralph Lee, CEO of BBC Studios Productions.
The BBCS managing director of factual role was expanded in February when the company united its production and content partnership businesses in order to take on a single strategic view across BBC Studios’ productions, talent relationships and content investment. The move was the first major strategic play by new CEO Tom Fussell.
Ward joined Vice Studios in late 2019, just as the company began building out its in-house film and TV production arm, which makes scripted, entertainment and factual content.
In a December 2020 interview with Variety, Ward highlighted the importance of unscripted for Vice Studios, noting: “Scripted and film is very, very important but in the last year, there’s been a big push to be a leader in premium documentary.”
During her tenure, Vice Studios produced the Oscar-nominated documentary “Flee,” Hulu scripted series “Tell Me Lies,” FX documentary series “Pride,” Netflix’s “Indian Predator” and a highly anticipated documentary feature about President Zelensky, directed by Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufmann.
Prior to joining Vice, Ward was president of international at women-centric media brand Refinery29, which was acquired by Vice in 2019. Before joining Refinery29, she spent eight years at the Endemol Shine Group in a variety of roles ranging from associate director of business development to head of commercial and strategy at Shine TV.
Lee, CEO of BBC Studios Productions, said: “Our Factual portfolio, with the Natural History, Docs and Science units at its heart and a range of brilliant indie partners, is critical to our success and growth, so I’m delighted to have attracted a leader of Kate’s calibre to the MD role. She has both an infectious passion for great documentary storytelling and a deep understanding of the content market. I can’t wait to start working with her and building on the success story of Factual at BBC Studios.”
Ward said: “I’m thrilled to be joining BBC Studios and to be working with the world leading programme makers and iconic brands that make up the Factual portfolio. Appetite for factual programming from both audiences and broadcasters alike continues to boom and I’m hugely excited to be part of Factual at BBC Studios as it is set to reach even greater heights. I am grateful for my time at Vice and proud of what we achieved together.”
Nancy Dubuc, CEO of Vice Media Group, added: “Kate’s been a great leader at the right time for Vice Studios and Pulse Films. Our exceptionally talented creative team is set to grow over the next few years with the most robust development and production slate we’ve ever had, from the upcoming ‘30 for 30’ on American Gladiators to Season 2 of ‘Gangs of London’ to our upcoming Zelensky documentary feature. We thank Kate for her contributions and wish her the very best.”
Variety's Manori Ravindran contributed to this post.