Discovery and BBC Studios have forged a global partnership covering newly created and library content to fuel a new streaming subscription video on demand service next year, as well as splitting UKTV channels into two separate units.
The new 10-year content partnership is effective in all territories outside the UK, Ireland and Greater China, and will make Discovery the exclusive global home of BBC natural history programs in SVOD, like Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Life collections, Dynasties and others. Future BBC-commissioned series from BBC Studios also will be available after they are available on linear TV. Discovery also gets SVOD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming across factual genres, forming the basis of a new global streaming service that will launch in 2020.
“Telling these stories is our mission and it is more important now than ever before,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in the press release. “The new platform will be the first global direct-to-consumer service with the category’s most iconic IP including the Planet Earth series, future sequels and spin-offs to all existing landmark series, and new exclusive natural history and science programming coming in the future. There is tremendous value in the marketplace for these programming categories which have broad appeal and strong multi-generational engagement, and we hope to fill the void in the global marketplace for a dedicated high quality product.”
Discovery and BBC Studios have also signed a development deal to create new factual content for Discovery for both linear and digital distribution. The two companies had earlier partners on natural history series like Planet Earth, Walking with Dinosaurs, Life and Blue Planet. As part of the new deal, they will co-fund a dedicated development team within BBC Studios.
“This is our largest ever content sales deal,” BBC Director-General Tony Hall said in the release. “It will mean BBC Studios and Discovery will work together to take our content right across the globe through a new world-beating streaming service.”
Also as part of the deal -- which is scheduled to close in the late spring -- Discovery will take full control of UKTV’s lifestyle channels Good Food, Home and Really, adding to its existing portfolio of 16 channels in the UK.
Following the deal closing, James Gibbons, EVP, GM, UK/IRL/ANZ & Commercial Development, Discovery EMEA, will manage the lifestyle channels as part of Discovery’s UK portfolio.
BBC Studios will acquire the remaining seven channels - Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W - along with digital player UKTV Play, and the UKTV brand.
As part of the UKTV agreement, Discovery will receive payments of £173 million ($225.8 million) from BBC Studios. Discovery also will receive at least another £10 million ($13 million) from UKTV. BBC Studios and Discovery have also agreed a short-term program licensing agreement for the supply of BBC Studios lifestyle content to Discovery’s UKTV channels in the UK.