In a deal valued at up to $400 million, Discovery Communications Inc. and the
British Broadcasting Corp. have agreed to a 10-year extension to their global
alliance, officials said Friday.
'This sends a message to the marketplace that Discovery and the BBC will
continue to be significant players in nonfiction programming, and that this kind
of programming is going to continue to be generated,' DCI spokesman David Leavy
The new deal between the BBC, BBC Worldwide Ltd. and DCI extends their joint
venture -- now in the final year of its initial five-year period -- through
The original alliance, signed and announced in March 1998, was formed in
order for DCI and the BBC to launch channels and create factual programming for
the global market.
At the time, DCI committed to invest $565 million in the deal for channel
development and production funding. With the extension, DCI is expected to
invest $35 million to $40 million per year on programming, according to
New elements to the alliance include the co-production of high-quality
'real-world' programming, the development of jointly owned networks around the
world and the development and distribution of BBC America.
The BBC is the sole owner of 26 million-subscriber network BBC America, but
DCI handles its affiliate sales.
In addition to BBC America, the joint venture has led to the development of
People+Arts, which now reaches more than 12 million homes in Latin America, and
Animal Planet, which reaches more than 130 million in 70 countries. The BBC owns
20 percent of the domestic Animal Planet network.
One of the partnership's priorities is to expand People+Arts' presence and
make it a major player in Latin America, according to Leavy.
The joint venture has also created award-winning, high-rated nonfiction
programming such as Walking with Dinosaurs -- the most-watched
documentary in U.S. cable history -- as well as sequel Walking with
Prehistoric Beasts and Blue Planet: Seas of Life.
'The next 10 years of this partnership will continue to strengthen the
quality, scope and reach of all Discovery's brands,' DCI chairman John Hendricks
said in a prepared statement.