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Discovery, BBC to split UKTV channels

Also announced Discovery SVoD to house BBC natural history programming

BBC Studios and Discovery have announced a deal to split up the British channels in their joint venture UKTV.

Discovery acquired its 50 per cent stake in UKTV last year as part of its $14.6 billion takeover of Scripps Networks Interactive.

BBC Studios will take full control of UKTV’s seven entertainment channels, which include W, Dave, Gold and Alibi.

Meanwhile Discovery will take control of UKTV’s lifestyle channels, including Good Food, Home and Really.

As part of the announcement, Marcus Arthur, currently president, UK, Ireland and ANZ, BBC Studios Distribution, has been announced as CEO, UKTV, taking over from Darren Childs who announced he was stepping down in February.

BBC Studios will make payments totalling £173m to Discovery. This includes a balancing payment in relation to the channels acquisition and the assumption of £70m of debt, currently financed by Discovery.

The two broadcasters also confirmed plans for a new SVoD service that Discovery plans to launch by 2020, which aims to become the exclusive global home of the BBC’s natural history programs.

Discovery will package BBC shows (featuring Planet EarthBlue Planet and Life) together with its own natural history and factual programming.

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, 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.”

David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, added: “As the two market leaders in landmark natural history and iconic factual programming, Tony and I look forward to working together again – our teams represent over 100 years of combined experience. 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.”