BBC makes ‘largest ever’ deal to take control of UKTV

BBC Studios will pay Discovery £173 million in the takeover deal.

Press Association
Last updated: 1 April 2019 - 3.20pm

The BBC has announced a £173 million takeover of UKTV channels from Discovery as part of the “largest ever” deal in the broadcaster’s history.

The Dave and Gold provider, which is jointly owned by Discovery and the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Studios, will be divided up between the US and UK broadcasters, with BBC Studios retaining the UKTV brand.

BBC Studios will pay Discovery £173 million in the takeover deal, which will see seven channels come under BBC Studios control.

Discovery will take Good Food, Home and Really under its brand, while BBC Studios will gain Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W.

Discovery has also agreed a new 10-year deal to air BBC Studios’ flagship natural history shows, including Planet Earth and Blue Planet, outside the UK and Ireland.

Blue Planet II
Landmark series including Blue Planet will be distributed by Discovery outside the UK and Ireland (Rachel Butler/BBC/PA)

BBC director-general Lord Hall said: “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.

“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.

“Global subscribers are in for a real treat, the best content on a great new platform.

“This is brilliant news for audiences here as it will enable the BBC to invest even more in factual programming for them.

“That’s also why BBC Studios taking control of the UKTV channels that best fit our programmes is good news. It means a secure future with long-term commercial returns.”

As part of the UKTV deal, BBC Studios will take on £70 million of debt from Discovery and give them around £10 million more from the splitting of the company’s current balance sheet.

Discovery will launch a new video-on-demand subscription service (SVOD) with rights to use BBC Studios’ natural history content, including landmark David Attenborough series.

David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery, said: “Discovery will be taking that expertise and creating the definitive global streaming product for curious and passionate viewers of all generations who want the most trusted, family-friendly storytelling in the world.

“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.”

UKTV was founded by BBC Studios and Thames Television in 1992. BBC Studios and Discovery had maintained joint ownership of the broadcaster.

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