Lionsgate and Discovery Communications have signed an exclusive long-term agreement for Lionsgate to distribute Discovery programming across packaged media platforms in the U.S.
It’s the first deal between the companies since Discovery’s purchase of a 3.4% stake in Lionsgate on Nov. 10.
Thursday’s agreement includes DVD and Blu-ray distribution of Discovery series and specials through Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery. The first title is “Racing Extinction,” which premiered Wednesday on Discovery Channel in more than 220 markets, and will be available on Feb. 23.
The film, directed by Louie Psihoyos (“The Cove”), focuses on artists and activists on an undercover operation to expose the hidden world of endangered species and the race to protect them against mass extinction.
“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Discovery, home of some of the most exciting brands on television, and delighted to bring their diverse and growing portfolio of programming to our home entertainment consumers,” said Lionsgate Home Entertainment President Ron Schwartz. “‘Racing Extinction’ is a powerful and topical documentary by an acclaimed filmmaker that has taken television audiences by storm, and it reflects the world-class quality of Discovery’s great pipeline of content.”
Lionsgate’s home entertainment business already distributes content from suppliers that include Studiocanal, Miramax, A24 and Roadside Attractions.
Cable titan John Malone is Discovery’s largest shareholder. The companies said Thursday that the distribution “extends the strategic relationship” from last month’s deal, which also saw Discovery CEO David Zaslav join Lionsgate’s board.
Malone is also the leading shareholder in Liberty Global, which also bought a 3.4% stake in Lionsgate on Nov. 10. CEO Mike Fries was also given a seat on the Lionsgate board.
In February, Malone exchanged a 4.5% stake in Starz for 3.4% of Lionsgate’s shares while joining the company’s board of directors, igniting speculation of a possible merger with Lionsgate.