AMC Networks has entered into a new and long-term partnership with BBC Worldwide. Under it, the company will acquire a 49.9% equity stake in the cable channel BBC America for $200 million, with BBC Worldwide retaining 50.1%.
AMC Networks will have operational control of the channel, which is available in almost 80 million homes in the US, including affiliate and advertising sales. It will also be consistent with BBC’s editorial standards and policies and consolidate the results of the joint venture in its financial statements.
BBC America will be managed as a standalone channel within the AMC Networks portfolio, which includes AMC, IFC, WE tv, and SundanceTV, as well as AMC Networks International, a collection of more than 60 channels distributed worldwide.
Also included in the partnership is representation of BBC World News in US distribution and domestic advertising sales.
Commenting on the partnership, Josh Sapan, AMC Networks president and CEO, said: “The BBC is one of the most recognised, trusted and respected brands in the world and we are proud to partner with it to create a content offering unmatched in the industry. I have great respect for what Herb Scannell and his team have achieved over the past four years, elevating BBC America’s profile, performance and productions.
“A combined AMC Networks-BBC America channel group creates a powerful collection of networks that are among the most critically-acclaimed, with distinct dramas and other potent content that creates a deep connection with viewers. Our content rises to the top on many levels and is particularly well-suited to an era of on-demand viewing and expanding consumer choice.”
Tony Hall, BBC DG and chairman of BBC Worldwide, added: “The US is an important market for the BBC’s commercial activities. This partnership brings together the whole BBC and will help us reach new audiences in the US, strengthen BBC America’s position for the long term and create opportunities for the UK creative community. We’ve already worked successfully with AMC Networks on award-winning productions of Top of the Lake and the Honourable Woman and this partnership means we can produce even more top quality drama together. And I hope this is the beginning of us working together on other future projects too.”
Ed Carroll, AMC Networks COO, said: “Orphan Black and Doctor Who are just two examples of bold and original BBC America content that creates passionate viewers and fits well alongside AMC Networks shows such as Mad Men, Portlandia and Rectify.”
Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide and director, Global, said: “AMC Networks is the ideal partner for BBC Worldwide. Like us, they are committed to the kind of high-quality, unmissable content that has already gained BBC America one of the most educated, affluent and tech savvy audiences in all of US television, with a powerful social media following. BBC America is a unique and upscale asset, with eight straight years of ratings growth behind it. By creating a stronger force with shared creative sensibilities, this partnership secures the continuation of that growth into the future.”
Following completion, BBC Worldwide North America will continue as a wholly owned regional business within BBC Worldwide, focused on programme and format sales and co-production relationships, scripted and unscripted production, consumer products, digital and live events.