Discovery is due to launch a new natural history streaming service by 2020 after striking a major content partnership with the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios.
The new streaming service will feature a library of the BBC’s premium factual series – including titles like Dynasties, Planet Earth and Blue Planet – and will be available worldwide outside the UK, Ireland and China.
Discovery will be the exclusive global SVOD partner for BBC landmark natural history programmes in these territories for 10 years. The new deal also covers future BBC-commissioned series from BBC Studios following their initial linear transmission.
In all, Discovery has acquired the SVOD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming across factual genres. This content will form one of the pillars of a new global streaming service, alongside Discovery programming, original content created for the service, and experiences and offerings “that go well beyond video”.
Discovery and BBC Studios have also signed a development deal to create new landmark factual content for Discovery that will be distributed via both linear and digital channels. The two companies will co-fund a dedicated development team within BBC Studios to facilitate this.
Discovery President and CEO, David Zasav, described the forthcoming SVOD service as “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, 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.”
BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said: “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 deal reunites Discovery and the BBC, which have worked together previously on natural history series like Planet Earth, Walking with Dinosaurs, Life and Blue Planet. The new SVOD service will also form a key part of Discovery’s growing portfolio of direct-to-consumer services, alongside services like Eurosport Player, GolfTV, and Dplay.
At the same time, the two companies have struck a deal to split their jointly-owned UKTV business, with Discovery to take full ownership of UKTV’s lifestyle channels and BBC Studios of UKTV’s entertainment channels.