BBC Worldwide is selling its 50% interest in Animal Planet to its partner Discovery Channel for $156 million (€114 million). The agreement, which also sees Worldwide exit Liv, will allow the BBC’s commercial arm to concentrate on wholly owned channel brands including BBC America, BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC HD and CBeebies.
“The launch and growth of BBC-branded international channels is an important strategic priority for BBC Worldwide and the sale of the 50% interest in Animal Planet and Liv will enable us to bring increased focus to these fast-growing channels, and to progress a number of other strategic priorities” said John Smith, CEO, BBC Worldwide. “The sale is also consistent with the BBC Trust review of BBC Worldwide which was published in November 2009.”
Animal Planet was launched as a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Discovery on October 1, 1996. Worldwide sold its 20% interest in the channel in 2006, but maintained shareholdings in Europe (excluding the UK), Asia, Australia & New Zealand, the Middle East, Africa and Canada.
BBC Worldwide has also agreed to extend its North American co-production partnership with Discovery for another two years. The relationship has previously produced landmark series including as Life, Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Wonders of the Solar System.