UKTV Split Up Confirmed, Marcus Arthur Replaces Darren Childs As CEO

As has been rumoured for months, UKTV as it presently exists is being split up. Owners Discovery and BBC Studios have reached a deal that will see Discovery take control of Good Food, Home and Really, while BBC Studios assumes full ownership of Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W.

Good Food, Home and Really will join Discovery’s slate of UK channels that also includes Discovery Channel, TLC, ID, Animal Planet, Eurosport, Quest and Quest Red and the Quest OD video-on-demand service. Discovery’s James Gibbons will manage the three channels as part of Discovery’s UK portfolio.

On the BBC Studios side of things, in addition to acquiring Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, Yesterday and W, they also take control of UKTV Play and retain the UKTV brand. The channels will continue to be managed out of UKTV’s offices in Hammersmith Grove and BBC Studios will look to grow investment into UK programming, including original content, for the channels. Additionally, when the deal closes, BBC Studios’ Marcus Arthur will replace Darren Childs as UKTV’s CEO. Childs’ exit was announced back in February.

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to complete in late spring, BBC Studios will make payments totalling £173m to Discovery. This includes a balancing payment in relation to the channels acquisition and the assumption of £70m of debt, currently financed by Discovery. This will be financed through existing borrowing facilities. Discovery will also receive at least an additional £10m from UKTV, as the parties will share the existing cash on the company’s balance sheet, reflecting outstanding dividend, and other ancillary value transfers to Discovery through the transaction.

In addition to this agreement, both BBC Studios and Discovery have agreed a short-term programme licensing agreement for the supply of BBC Studios lifestyle content to Discovery’s UKTV channels in the UK. There have also inked a ten year content partnership ahead of the launch of a Discovery owned global streaming service that will be the exclusive home of BBC landmark natural history programmes in SVOD. The agreement does not cover the UK, Ireland and Greater China. Discovery has also acquired  SVOD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming across factual genres for the service. Lastly, the two companies have also agreed development deal to create new landmark factual content for Discovery for both linear and digital distribution.