BBC Worldwide has announced it is selling its 50% interest share in joint venture Animal Planet and Liv to Discovery for US$156 million, in order to focus on the expansion of its own channels.
Animal Planet reaches almost 250 million subscribers across Europe, Asia and Latin America, while Liv is a general entertainment channel reaching 24 million cumulative subscribers across Latin American.
‘The launch and growth of BBC-branded international channels is an important strategic priority for BBC Worldwide,’ said John Smith, CEO of BBC Worldwide, in a statement. ‘The sale is also consistent with the BBC Trust review of BBC Worldwide which was published in November 2009.’
In its review, the BBC Trust maintained that the commercial arm of the BBC should divest its stakes ‘in non-BBC branded international channels over time where it makes commercial sense.’
Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International commented, ‘Acquiring BBC Worldwide’s rights to the Animal Planet and Liv channel brands provides Discovery a strategic opportunity to create additional revenue and growth opportunities for our global business.’ Discovery now owns 100% of the channels.
In addition, a new agreement has been formed between the BBC and Discovery Communications which will extend the long-standing coproduction and program acquisition partnership between the companies. The new agreement extends the relationship to 2014.
‘This new coproduction agreement continues a tradition of developing world-class global hits such as Planet Earth and Life that began 25 years ago when Discovery launched in the U.S.,’ said Discovery’s Hollinger.
Director of BBC Vision, Jana Bennett, says, ‘This extended deal with Discovery enables us to continue producing the most ambitious and creative landmark factual programming for viewers until 2014 and provides exceptional value for licence fee payers. It will enable us to build on some of the natural history and specialist factual coproductions we already have planned, such as David Attenborough’s epic series about the cycle of seasons, Frozen Planet, for 2011.’