Apparently, 2019 will go down as the year that any and everyone got into the streaming video on demand (SVOD) business, and Discovery and BBC Studios aren’t any different. The two powerhouses inked a programming deal worth roughly $400 million that will see natural history programming from BBC play on a new Discovery streaming service that is set to launch by 2020.
“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 spinoffs to all existing landmark series, and new exclusive natural history and science programming coming in the future,” Discovery CEO and President Zaslav says 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.”
“This is our largest-ever content sales deal,” says BBC Director General Tony Hall. “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.”
Discovery already has a sizeable cache of BBC content thanks to a decade-long deal, and the company will work with BBC Studios to create new programming across natural history, travel, and science, among other genres. Zaslav says original programming will also include news, games, and podcasts.
That all sounds great, but how much will it cost? While Hulu recently lowered its subscription costs, once you factor in Netflix, HBO Go, and the handful of other streaming services users are already paying for, is there enough money to go around? According to Zaslav, the still-unnamed platform could cost less than $5 a month. (Now if only we know how much Disney+ and Apple’s new platform would cost. …)
The programming deal also covers global rights to such BBC franchises as Planet Earth and Blue Planet, excluding China, as well as the UK, where the BBC can add that content to its own services.
As part of another deal, the companies have divvied up ownership of the UKTV channels group. Discovery is poised to take ownership of the lifestyle networks while BBC Studios gets the entertainment channels. The deal will see BBC Studios pay Discovery about $226 million.
Whew, BBC has been busy. Aside from this new partnership with Discovery, the studio is working with AMC Networks on a number of natural history projects, including Frozen Planet II and One Planet: Seven Worlds. AMC gets linear rights to the shows, airing them first, but in the U.S. they’ll be available on the Discovery streamer, too.
Photo: Discovery/Science Channel