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BBC Studios, ZDF in content pact

BBC Studios’ blue-chip natural history hit Planet Earth II

BBC Studios (BBCS) has struck a development and coproduction deal with German pubcaster ZDF, shedding further light on how the UK firm will work with broadcasters following its global deal with Discovery.

The arrangement will see ZDF and BBCS co-develop scripted TV series and coproduce landmark factual shows like the forthcoming One Planet: Seven Worlds from BBCS’s Natural History Unit (NHU).

It will give both companies the opportunity to pitch scripted projects with international appeal, and comes after BBCS and ZDF recently partnered on new drama The Mallorca Files, from Cosmopolitan Pictures/Clerkenwell Films.

On the factual side, ZDF will have an exclusive first look in Germany at coproducing all of the NHU’s landmark titles, which have previously included Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II and Frozen Planet.

The arrangement gives ZDF first option on linear broadcast for these shows, C21 understands. Discovery, which struck a far-reaching streaming partnership with the BBC’s commercial arm in April, will then be handed SVoD rights to series after the linear window.

ZDF will also have the first linear option on BBCS’s factual catalogue, including science, history, documentary and natural history programming. Discovery has already acquired SVoD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming across factual genres for its forthcoming streamer.

BBCS was unable to comment on whether the ZDF deal includes any provision for the German broadcaster to put forthcoming factual programming online, but typically such linear deals do allow for this in some capacity.

Paul Dempsey, president of global markets at BBCS, said the “strategic deal” was “a hugely important and exciting opportunity,” adding: “Global hits like Planet Earth II wouldn’t have been possible without international partners like ZDF, which came on board early as a coproducer.

“ZDF has been Germany’s key investor in our content over the last few years and is the ideal partner, sharing the same editorial values.”

Norbert Himmler, chief content officer at ZDF, added: “The new substantial agreement consolidates the traditional and successful cooperation between the two broadcasters and strengthens our position against increasingly fierce competition – especially in times of limited financial resources.”

Philipp Schmid, MD at BBCS Germany, said the agreement “allows us to significantly broaden our creative and commercial activities in the German market with ZDF, while the depth and variety of our programming will continue to provide wide-ranging opportunities to our other partners in the territory.”

Yesterday Greek pay TV operator Cosmote TV secured a package of more than 250 hours of BBCS factual titles for its VoD service, highlighting that factual content from the UK pubcaster’s commercial arm is still available for companies despite the Discovery deal.



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