BBC sells Animal Planet stake to Discovery in a $156m deal

BBC Worldwide is selling its 50 per cent interest in Animal Planet to its partner Discovery Channel for $156m.

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 deal, which comes almost a year after the BBC Trust recommended that the corporation should sell its interests in non-BBC branded international channels, brings to an end a 13-year partnership

John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said the sale of the 50 per cent 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.”

Animal Planet was launched as a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Discovery on 1 October 1996 . Worldwide sold its 20 per cent interest in the channel in 2006, but maintained shareholdings in Europe (excluding the UK), Asia, Australia & New Zealand, the Middle East, Africa and Canada.