BBC Sells Stake in Animal Planet for $156M, Inks New Deal With Discovery

New co-production pact runs through 2014; BBC unloads 50% interest in channel

Last Updated: November 15, 2010 @ 9:11 AM

The BBC and Discovery Communications announced an extension of their longtime programming partnership on Monday — and a sale, too.

Terms were not disclosed. The new agreement will run through 2014, the companies said. Their current deal was due to end in 2012.

As part of the arrangement, the BBC is selling its stake in Animal Planet and Liv networks to Discovery for $156 million, opting instead to “concentrate on the expansion of its wholly owned channel brands” — including BBC America, BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle et al.

“[It] enables us to continue producing the most ambitious and creative landmark factual programming for viewers until 2014 and provides exceptional value for license fee payers,” Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said in announcing the arrangement: "It will enable us to build on some of the natural history and specialist factual co-productions we already have planned, such as David Attenborough's epic series about the cycle of seasons, Frozen Planet, for 2011."

For Discovery, acquiring the Beeb’s stake in Animal Planet represents “a strategic opportunity to create additional revenue and growth opportunities for our global business," Discovery CEO Mark Hollinger said.

The BBC and Discovery have had a working relationship since Discovery’s inception 25 years ago.