Discovery and BBC this morning announced an extensive,10-year content partnership deal for a new streaming service focused on natural history and factual programming. The subscription video service is expected to cost less than $5 per month, and will be owned by Discovery. It will operate in all territories outside the U.K., Ireland and China when it launches in 2020.
This will make Discovery’s service the exclusive subscription video on demand (SVOD) home to series like “Planet Earth,” “Blue Planet,” “Life,” “Dynasties,” and others, in addition to future BBC-commissioned shows from BBC Studios after they air on linear TV.
These will be combined with Discovery’s lineup, including “MythBusters,” Deadliest Catch,” “Unsolved History,” “Shark Week” and others, as well as hundreds of hours of BBC programming that Discovery now has the SVOD rights to stream.
In addition, Discovery and BBC Studios will again work together to fund the development of new wildlife series along with other travel, science and natural history content, for both linear and digital distribution.
The two companies also came to an agreement on how they’ll split up the shows from broadcaster UKTV, which Discovery acquired when it bought Scripps in 2018. Discovery will take control of lifestyle channels, including Good Food, Home and Really, to add to its existing portfolio of 16 channels in the U.K.
BBC Studios, meanwhile, will take ownership of the other seven entertainment channels — Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W — as well as the UKTV brand and digital service, UKTV Play. BBC Studios agreed to pay $225 million for the channels and assumed $91 million in debt, financed by Discovery.
Discovery will also receive an additional £10 million from UKTV, as both parties will share the existing cash on the company’s balance sheet.
“From the planets to the poles, and documenting every species in between, the world has always been part of Discovery’s DNA. It is who we are. Telling these stories is our mission and it is more important now than ever before,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav, in a statement. “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.”
“The BBC makes outstanding natural history and science programmes. They are ground-breaking and demonstrate the quality and depth of our know-how. It is vital that we keep investing and growing them for the future. This is our largest ever content sales deal,” BBC Director-General Tony Hall, added. “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,” he said.
According to The WSJ, which reported on the deal this morning, Zaslav has plans for other streaming services, as well, including those focused on food, home improvement, golf and cycling.