You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Discovery Boosts Global Production with $1 Billion Budget

Discovery's international shows include survival adventure series 'Free Ride'

EDINBURGH — Discovery Networks International is beefing up its global production activities by ordering more shows from outside the U.K.

Two new commissions from Australian production companies announced at the Edinburgh Television Festival were examples of the new policy.

The initiative will see DNI’s new content prexy, Marjorie Kaplan, oversee an annual budget of $1 billion, of which $45 million will be spent in London.

“Sydney Harbour Uncovered,” made by WTFN, and “Question Everything,” made by Essential Media, which also has an office in Los Angeles, were among several new DNI titles unveiled by chief creative officer Phil Craig.

“Nowadays we are more open to production companies outside the U.K. producing shows for us,” said Craig, who reports to Kaplan.

Discovery has invested in several British production companies including so-called super-indie All3Media, which it co-owns with Liberty Global. There has been criticism that DNI favors commissioning from within Discovery, rather than buying shows from companies the cable channel does not own.

“I’d say that under a quarter of our commissions are from companies that are owned by us,” said Craig, who denied giving Discovery-run shingles special access.

One new show that does come from inside the DNI stable is survival adventure series “Free Ride,” produced by U.K. outfit Raw, acquired by the cable web last year. In the series, U.S. adventurer Rob Greenfield buddies up with British filmmaker James Levelle as they attempt to travel the world with no money and no plans.

“There’ll be no fakery, no pre-booked Holiday Inns. Rob and James hope to live on the kindness of strangers or earn their living by doing odd jobs or picking food,” said Craig.

The DNI chief creative officer indicated he would like to make content linked to the Olympics, whose European TV rights from 2018 were bagged by pay TV network Eurosport earlier this year. The pan-European sports web is now wholly owned by Discovery.

“I believe that part of the deal means we get privileged access to Olympics content,” he said.

The Olympics deal has been seen as a huge coup for Discovery and potentially threatens to end the BBC’s dominance of the sports in the U.K.

From 2022, Discovery will control British rights to the Games, which Craig signaled could end up either on ITV or Channel 4, rather than the BBC.

More TV


    'Chambers' Canceled After One Season at Netflix

    Netflix has canceled the drama series “Chambers” after one season. The series followed a teenager who gets a heart transplant and becomes consumed with the mystery surrounding her donor. The series starred Uma Thurman, Tony Goldwyn, Sivan Alyra Rose, Lilliya Reid, Nicholas Galitzine, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Lilli Kay, Sarah Mezzanotte, and Griffin Powell-Arcand. Leah Rachel [...]

  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    TV News Roundup: 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' to Air Live After Democratic Debates

    In today’s roundup, Trevor Noah announces two live specials after the first Democratic debates and the new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” sets a premiere date. SPECIALS “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” will broadcast live following the Democratic Party’s first 2020 presidential primary debates on June 26 and 27 at 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. [...]

  • Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Refusing

    Writers Guild 'Plans to Respond' to Agents' Proposal as Frustration Mounts

    In a sign of increasing frustration, Hollywood agents have accused the Writers Guild of America of foot-dragging in the bitter two-month dispute. “It has become clear as more days pass that the Guild is not interested in making a deal,” said the negotiating committee for the agents in statement issued Tuesday. “Over the past year, [...]

  • Samantha Bee Variety

    Samantha Bee Isn't Thrilled to Be the Last Woman Standing in Late Night

    Samantha Bee is now the only female host in late night, and that’s a stat she’s not happy about. “It’s a bit unsettling,” Bee recently told Variety. “It’s been a bad year to be a woman in this space. It’s not really a badge that I want to wear.” Shows that have been canceled over [...]

  • XXXTentacion

    Watch a Trailer for New XXXTentacion Documentary

    A year to the day after rapper XXXTentacion was murdered, his estate has released a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the artist, which the announcement says is “releasing soon.” The clip, which includes narration from X himself, captures quick flashes of him reuniting with family and friends, engaging with fans, and working on music. In the [...]

  • The-Saddest-Goal

    Fascism and Fútbol Feature in Chilean Series Project ‘The Saddest Goal’

    PAMPLONA, Spain – Chilean production company Manufactura de Películas pitched its unconventional Pinochet-era drama “The Saddest Goal” today at Spain’s Conecta Fiction TV co-production and networking TV event, held in Pamplona. Set during qualification for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, a period of great political instability in Chile, “The Saddest Goal” kicks off as the [...]

  • Spain’s La Claqueta, Portugal’s SPi Ink

    Conecta Fiction: La Claqueta and SPi Ink Fiction Co-Production Pact

    Spain’s Seville-based shingle La Claqueta and Portugal’s SPi have clinched a co-development agreement for three fiction projects a year. Companies first made contact at last year’s Conecta Fiction, the annual co-production meet in Spain. The companies have also pacted to co-produce the animated feature-length docu “El viaje más largo” in collaboration with Portuguese pubcaster RTP [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content