On the heels of their collaboration on Torchwood: Miracle Day, Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Prods have signed a multi-year production agreement. Under the deal, the two companies will co-develop and co-finance multiple series that will be produced by BBC Worldwide Prods. The potential output is estimated at more than 100 hours of drama series programming. Starz gets distribution rights for the U.S. and English-speaking Canada, while BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally. The deal essentially gives Starz a (non-exclusive) production arm without the large cost associated with overhead as Starz is looking to compete against its more established pay-cable competitors on a far smaller production budget. The network already uses a similar approach in casting, where it has been using the services of independent casting director Marc Hirschfeld who has been essentially serving as head of casting on a non-exclusive, consulting basis. The deal with BBC Worldwide will allow Starz to put on the air bigger-budget series as BBC Worldwide will deficit finance the shows, covering the difference between the license fee paid by the network and the series’ budget. The company plans to cover the deficit by international sales, so all series developed and produced under the agreement with Starz will be designed with the global marketplace in mind. The first project in the works is Da Vinci’s Demons, recently announced by BBC Worldwide Prods’ head Jane Tranter and written by David S. Goyer. The pact instantly makes BBC Worldwide Prods, known primarily for producing the ABC reality hit Dancing With the Stars, a major supplier of scripted series in the U.S. “When I came to Starz, we determined that forging strong international partnerships would play center stage in financing our ramp-up of dynamic original programming,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. “This exciting partnership with BBC Worldwide Prods is a major step in that direction.”
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