Discovery issued an email this morning letting the media know it has ended its programming partnership with BBC — a relationship that’s produced some of Discovery’s most acclaimed Oprah Winfrey-narrated natural history telecasts. “Discovery and the BBC today announced that their longstanding partnership is coming to an end, by mutual agreement,” a statement said this morning, taking a page out of the Kardashian playbook.
It’s the same old story: they’d grown apart — BBC focusing on blue-chip shows along the lines of Life, and Frozen Planet, Discovery looking for more character-driven reality series: Gold Rush, Gold Fever, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Naked And Afraid. Maybe even more important, in the years since the relationship began, Discovery has launched channels in international markets where, per terms of its deal, it did not have distribution rights on BBC programs. Discovery will now go it alone, without BBC by its side, like it did on the seven-part Tom Selleck-narrated natural history series North America it debuted last May. With its international becoming such a big part of its business, having content for all of its global channels became a major imperative.
And yet, Discovery’s Andrew Jackson, EVP Production & Development, Landmark Series and Specials, said in this morning’s announcement: “As Discovery’s global audiences continue to flourish, they demand the very best science and natural history programming. This is taking us in exciting, new directions, creating these essential shows for numerous cutting edge platforms. We look forward to working with the many talented production companies around the world, including the BBC, with whom we have enjoyed a long and successful relationship.” Discovery said the projects the two would continue to work to completion on programs they had in the works, including Hidden Kingdom, Survival, and How To Build A Planet.
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