Discovery, BBC Studios Complete Split-Up of UKTV Networks

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Discovery CEO David Zaslav

Discovery takes control of lifestyle channels, such as Good Food and Home, while the U.K. public broadcaster's commercial arm now controls seven entertainment channels.

TV giant Discovery Inc. and BBC Studios, the commercial arm of U.K. public broadcaster BBC, on Wednesday said they have closed the deal to split up the British channels in their TV joint venture UKTV.

Discovery, led by CEO David Zaslav, had acquired a 50 percent stake in UKTV last year as part of its $14.6 billion takeover of Scripps Networks Interactive and in April unveiled an agreement with the BBC to split up the networks in the venture.

BBC Studios takes full control of UKTV's seven entertainment channels, including W, male-centric comedy and sports network Dave, Gold, which airs classic British comedies, and the female-centric Alibi, which features shows such as Quantico. Discovery takes control of UKTV's lifestyle channels, including Good Food, Home and Really.

As part of the UKTV deal, BBC Studios agreed to make payments totaling 173 million pounds, or $225 million at the time the agreement was unveiled, to Discovery.

Said James Gibbons, executive vp, general manager U.K. & Australia, New Zealand at Discovery: "Today marks an exciting milestone for Discovery, as we welcome UKTV’s lifestyle channels to our substantial U.K. portfolio. We are committed to deepening our position with viewers as the leader in real-life entertainment by building great brands that power people’s passions and deliver value to our partners."

Marcus Arthur, president, U.K. & Ireland at BBC Studios and the new CEO of UKTV, said, “UKTV has always been an important part of the BBC Group, creating value for license fee payers and British program makers. UKTV’s award-winning brands, innovative commissions and premium acquisitions have delivered large and loyal audiences who love great TV. As a wholly-owned part of BBC Studios, we will support its future content ambitions, building on its history of success over many years."

Also in April, Discovery and BBC Studios signed a 10-year content partnership, making Discovery the exclusive global SVOD home, excluding the U.K., Ireland and Greater China, of BBC landmark natural history programs, including Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Life and Dynasties. Discovery also acquired SVOD rights to hundreds of additional hours of BBC programming.