Reps for Liberty Media-owned Starz Sunday confirmed to TheWrap that the pay cable network has struck a deal with BBC Worldwide Productions to co-produce TV shows.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the pact, the agreement could deliver Starz with as much as $300 million to create new programming while generating more than 100 hours of original TV.
According to an individual close to Starz, the agreement will allow the company to leverage its domestic DVD/streaming sales infrastructure. It also helps Starz achieve its stated goal of having 50-60 hours of original programming by 2013.
The deal gives ammo-strapped Starz some resources in its battle with rival premium cable networks HBO and Showtime.
According to SNL Kagan, Starz's total programming budget was only around $685 million last year, about a third of what HBO spent.
As such, Starz series such as the various "Spartacus" incarnations shot using mostly computer-generated sets and no-name casts.
"This deal allows us to produce shows with significantly higher production values, shows that have a really premium look," said Chris Albrecht, the former HBO programming architect who now serves as CEO for Liberty's Starz LLC unit, to the Wall Street Journal. "That's more important than ever in a universe where so many networks are doing original series and some are spending $7 million or more an episode. Viewers expect more today."