Content deal boosts group's channels

ROME — Discovery Networks Italy has inked a first-look deal with Ben Silverman’s Electus that will bring non-scripted content, including Elle Macpherson’s “Fashion Star” reality show, to Italian terrestrial TV auds.

The two-year deal, which kicks off in October and also includes Spike TV’s “American Digger,” will beef up Discovery’s strong presence in Italy.

Discovery Networks Italy controls free-to-air channels Real Time and DMAX on which “Digger” and “Star” will air, plus four stations on Rupert Murdoch’s pay TV satcaster Sky Italia, including Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. It’s Discovery World unspools on rival DTT paybox Mediaset Premium, owned by Silvio Berlusconi.

Discovery Communications is reportedly among companies that have expressed interest in buying terrestrial channel, La 7, being sold by Telecom Italia.

The group’s muscular market position, however, is being challenged by smaller DTT niche channels such as Switchover Media’s factual station Focus, which bows this month.

Discovery Networks Italy VP of programming and content Laura Carafoli said the deal gives the company “access to stand-out entertainment shows of high production value which we know will become long running franchises for our portfolio.”

Founded in 2009 by Silverman, a former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, and financed by Barry Diller’s IAC, Electus is touted as the first integrated multimedia outfit uniting producers, creators, advertisers and distributors early on in the process of developing content for digital and traditional media outlets.

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