Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI) has chosen BMG Video as its distribution partner for its home video line. BMG picked up the five-year distribution deal, gaining access to Discovery’s library of 180 titles, including products for kids. The deal will see BMG release 12 to 18 new titles per year, with a requirement to also re-release a minimum of eight titles from the catalogue annually. The library material will be repackaged and remarketed, effectively ‘revitalizing’ at least 40 titles from the Discovery vault over the term of the contract. The video rights are for the United States only, with distributors in other territories hanging on to their current rights.
‘We’re moving from a self-distribution model to a distribution partnership,’ explains senior manager of video distribution and licensing Paul Payette. ‘One of the primary reasons for aligning with a company like BMG is their leverage and their contacts in the video business. They have long-standing relationships that lend themselves to greater potential.’
Discovery had originally considered teaming up with Sony, and Payette is diplomatic about Discovery’s talks with Sony. ‘We felt, after negotiating, that BMG was a better fit. Sony is a very large company, and their main focus is on theatrical releases, [so] we felt BMG better fit with our needs of special interest programming. We know we can get the focus from BMG that we need, and they have been selling our type of product.’
Discovery hit the market with four new three-part kids series in the last quarter of `97, namely Bonehead Detectives of the Paleoworld, Jaws and Claws, Extreme Machines for Kids and Baby Animal Tales. DCI has been successful with its Professor Iris and Mother Nature series, both of which have seen mass merchandising through outlets such as Toys `R’ Us and Wal-Mart.
Payette suggests that these titles are just the beginning of Discovery’s foray into the youth video field. ‘We really expect to be a player in the kids market.’
In other news, DCI has opened an on-line store for its retail chain The Nature Company. The Web site (www.natureco.com) allows visitors to search for gift ideas based on category, age, gender and price range. Browsers can also subscribe to a free on-line newsletter written by naturalist Steve Manning.