BBC Studios and Germany’s ZDF have announced a strategic partnership to develop and co-produce content.

The long-term partnership agreement has been struck at a time when European broadcasters are increasingly looking at ways of pooling resources to matching the spending power of US streamers such as Netflix and Amazon, and upcoming services from Disney, Warner Bros and Apple.

The partnership will see the two organisations co-develop scripted TV series and co-produce landmark factual shows, such as the forthcoming One Planet: Seven Worlds from BBC Studios Natural History Unit. 

The co-development deal will give both companies the opportunity to pitch scripted projects with international appeal.  BBC Studios and ZDF have already partnered on a new drama, The Mallorca Files, from Cosmopolitan Pictures/Clerkenwell Films, which is currently in production.

As part of the deal, ZDF will have an exclusive first look in Germany at co-producing all of the NHU’s landmark titles. ZDF will also have the first option on BBC Studios’ factual catalogue, including science, history, documentaries and natural history.

As a public service broadcaster, ZDF has a long relationship with the BBC and its commercial arm. ZDF’s Terra X brand has been the German home for BBC series such as Frozen Planet and Planet Earth II amongst others.

“Producing ambitious, high quality TV content is all about partnerships.  So this strategic deal, bringing two of the leaders of European public service broadcasting closer together, is a hugely important and exciting opportunity.  Global hits like Planet Earth II wouldn’t have been possible without international partners like ZDF, which came on board early as a co-producer,” said Paul Dempsey, President Global Markets, BBC Studios.

Norbert Himmler, Chief Content Officer, ZDF, commented: “The new substantial agreement consolidates the traditional and successful cooperation between the two broadcasters and strengthens our position against increasingly fierce competition – especially in times of limited financial resources.”

Philipp Schmid, Managing Director, BBC Studios Germany, added: “Since BBC Studios merged last year as a fully integrated production and distribution business, partnerships like this allow us to work even closer in developing and co-producing content with a strategic partner like ZDF.”

Staff Reporter

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