BBC win control of UKTV channels in £180 million deal

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

The BBC has completed its most expensive-ever deal with US provider Discovery, spending around £180 million to take on seven UKTV channels.

At the moment, viewers can watch regular reruns of popular BBC programmes such as Top Gear, QI, Only Fools and Horses, and Dad's Army on UKTV's free-to-air and pay-TV channels. These include Dave, Gold, Yesterday and Alibi.

UKTV was formerly operated as a joint venture between the BBC and Discovery, and the BBC's stake has been valued at around £400 million. The BBC gains the rights to all of UKTV's channels except Really, Home and Good Food from Discovery. The other three channels, Discovery will wholly take on. 

The agreement that has allowed for this takeover comes from a content partnership with the US media corporation - which operates namesake Discovery Channel, as well as TLC, Science Channel, and Food Network.

The sum of £180 million makes it the most valuable in the BBC's history. It's been made possible through a combination of paying around £100 million in cash, taking on £70 million of UKTV's debt, and handing Discovery about £10 million from UKTV's dividend. The BBC has also agreed to license its world-renowned natural history and wildlife content to Discovery for an international streaming service.