Discovery, BBC announce plans for global SVOD launch

Discovery will get exclusive streaming rights for BBC programs including “Planet Earth.” (BBC)

Discovery Inc. and the BBC today announced a new multiyear partnership that includes the upcoming launch of an international streaming video service.

Discovery is acquiring SVOD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming that will be used as the backbone of a new global streaming service, which will also include some of Discovery’s programming library, original content and “experiences and offerings that go well beyond video,” according to a news release about the deal.

The company plans to launch the service by 2020, and it will be made available to distribution partners for retail.

“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,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav in a statement. “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.”

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Discovery and the BBC’s 10-year content partnership will cover all territories outside the UK, Ireland and Greater China, and will give Discovery exclusive streaming rights for BBC programs including the “Planet Earth,” the “Blue Planet” and “Life” collections, as well as future BBC-commissioned landmark series from BBC Studios. The two companies will also co-fund a dedicated content development team within BBC Studios.

The new SVOD and content agreement between Discovery and the BBC rekindles a long-standing relationship between the two companies. In 1996 the companies announced a $600 million global content and network partnership, and later that same year Discovery launched Animal Planet in cooperation with the BBC.

The two companies also hammered out terms for a deal for UKTV’s channel group. Discovery will take full control of lifestyle channels Good Food, Home and Really. James Gibbons, executive vice president and general manager of UK/IRL/ANZ and commercial development at Discovery EMEA, will manage the lifestyle channels as part of Discovery’s UK portfolio. BBC Studios acquires the remaining seven channels - Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W - along with digital player UKTV Play, and the UKTV brand.

BBC Studios will make payments totaling about $227 million to Discovery, including a payment in relation to the channels acquisition and the assumption of nearly $92 million of debt currently financed by Discovery.