Deal marks first acquisition of a content company

LONDON — Discovery Communications has for the first time acquired a U.K. shingle — factual entertainment specialist Betty.

No financial details were disclosed, but the deal is thought to have cost the U.S. cable giant in the region of $16 million.

Discovery, which is keen to beef up its international production activities, said move would enable Betty to create “a global infrastructure” and maximise its investment in shows of worldwide appeal.

In the U.S., the Discovery-owned TLC web has commissioned two runs of Betty’s “Freaky Eaters.”

The shingle will develop and produce new ideas and formats for Discovery’s portfolio of factual and lifestyle channels, including the female-skewing TLC.

Discovery will also have the option to acquire formats from Betty’s library.

The producer will continue to operate independently from its London h.q., with all staff remaining on board for the foreseeable future.

The U.S. cabler is relatively late to acquiring a U.K. shingle. NBC U bought Carnival in August 2008, while last year Warners snapped up “super indie” Shed Media.

Betty is managed by founder Liz Warner, head of production Sophy Walker and creative director Walter Iuzzolino.

Its shows include “The Joy of Teen Sex,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Food Hospital” and “Country House Rescue.”

Last year Betty had revenue of £7.5 million ($12 million), and pre-tax profit of $1.2 million.

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