AMC Networks buys 49.9% stake in BBC America

In a deal worth US$200 million, the U.S. cable giant will take over operational control - including affiliate and advertising sales - of BBC America from BBC Worldwide North America. (Pictured: BBC America's Top Gear)
October 23, 2014

AMC Networks has acquired a 49.9% equity stake in cable channel BBC America from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of British pubcaster BBC.

The deal, worth US$200 million, will give the U.S. cable giant operational control over the network, including affiliate and advertising sales. In a statement, the company said it will run BBC America as a stand-alone channel “consistent with BBC’s editorial standards and policies.”

BBC Worldwide will retain a 50.1% stake in the channel.

The two companies will also jointly pursue “content investment opportunities on a range of future projects” through BBC America and AMC Networks’ other channels, which include AMC, IFC, WE tv, and SundanceTV in addition to the AMC Networks International portfolio of more than 60 global channels.

Additionally, AMC will distribute and oversee domestic ad sales for BBC World News in the United States. The news network is editorially run by BBC Global News Ltd. and is available in 30 million American homes.

BBC America is available in 80 million U.S. homes. Its programming includes the factual hit Top Gear (pictured), blue-chip natural history series Planet Earth and scripted series and miniseries such as Orphan Black, Doctor Who and Top of the Lake, the latter of which was a coproduction between the two companies.

“The BBC is one of the most recognized, trusted and respected brands in the world and we are proud to partner with it to create a content offering unmatched in the industry,” said AMC Networks president and CEO Josh Sapan in a statement. “I have great respect for what [BBC Worldwide North America president] Herb Scannell and his team have achieved over the past four years, elevating BBC America’s profile, performance and productions.”

“The U.S. is an important market for the BBC’s commercial activities. This partnership brings together the whole BBC and will help us reach new audiences in the U.S., strengthen BBC America’s position for the long term and create opportunities for the UK creative community,” added Tony Hall, BBC director-general and chairman of BBC Worldwide. “I hope this is the beginning of us working together on other future projects too.”

BBC Worldwide North America will continue to operate as a wholly owned regional business within BBC Worldwide focused on program and format sales, coproductions, live events and unscripted and scripted productions.

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