The deal will initially run for two years beginning in October and will give Discovery Italy a first look at the non-scripted catalogue from Electus’s global distribution arm, Electus International.
Discovery Networks Western Europe operates seven channels in Italy, including female-skewing Real Time and male-focusing DMax free-to-air.
The first two shows to cross over as part of the deal have already been selected: Fashion Star, which made its debut on NBC earlier this year fronted by model Elle Macpherson, will air in Italy for the first time this autumn on Real Time, while Spike TV’s historical artefacts series American Digger will premiere around the same time on DMax.
Laura Carafoli, recently promoted to VP programming at Discovery Italy after overseeing the launch of Real Time and DMax during her four years with the company, told C21 that Discovery’s presence in Italy’s free-to-air space had helped it to secure the deal.
Carafoli said: “If we were only pay-TV I don’t think Electus would give us the first-look because they are obviously looking to sell rights for free-to-air. The fact we can offer both free and pay rights definitely helps.”
Initially the deal will see the finished US versions of programmes airing in Italy on Discovery’s channel portfolio, but Carafoli hopes this will develop into an arrangement where local versions of the formats are produced.
She said: “Some of the content is really linked to an American culture and way of life; it would be difficult to recreate an Italian Digger, for example. But for shows like Fashion Star or other lifestyle shows we can, in 2013, try to also exploit the format.
“Electus is able to do things that other companies are not able to do. From the beginning it has had a very strong multi-platform approach. For instance, Fashion Star is something that is not only on TV, it lives outside of TV in shops and on the web. This is something that’s innovative and we’re looking for these kinds of shows for Italy in the free-to-air market.”
In May, Ben Silverman told C21 about his plans to roll out Fashion Star globally as a locally produced format.