The BBC has signed the biggest commercial deal in its history to sell its natural history programmes to a new global streaming service run by Discovery Channel.

BBC director-general Tony Hall described the much-anticipated £300m deal, which will run for 10 years, as the “largest content deal the BBC has ever done”.

The natural history content will appear on the new Discovery platform around the world, except in the UK, Ireland and China. The new service is expected to launch by the end of the year.

Discovery and the BBC will also jointly work on new natural history content, which will be shown by the BBC in the UK.

Lord Hall said: “The licence fee payer will really benefit from this because whatever money we can make from being part of this streaming service globally, of course we will put that back into more programmes, which people here can watch.

“Equally, because we’ve got this partnership for developing new programmes jointly with Discovery, they’ll also see those programmes.“

Discovery and the BBC have also agreed to split UKTV, the multi-channel broadcaster they jointly own. BBC Studios will pay Discovery around £180m to take control of seven of the 10 UKTV channels, including the popular Dave and Gold, plus Alibi, Drama, Eden, Yesterday and W.

Discovery will take ownership of the Good Food, Home and Really channels as part of the deal.

According to the the the Guardian, UKTV has proven a cash cow for the BBC, with profits rising over the past eight years from £29m to more than £90m, valuing the business at around £750m. UKTV also pays £54m annually to BBC Studios for the rights to a huge library of BBC programmes, ranging from Top Gear to Dad’s Army.

It has previously warned that channel closures and job losses could result. The BBC has been approached about selling its stake in UKTV, but it has chosen the alternative of investing to take over a highly profitable business.

Sourced from Guardian; additional content by WARC staff