Discovery Communications (US)


Discovery Channel is now arguably the world's most valuable cable brand (ahead of MTV). Parent Discovery Communications claims the position of the world's top-ranked cable programmer, with a collection of other global science or reality-based channels including multiple Discovery-branded sister strands, as well as TLC, Animal Planet and now full ownership of European sports channel Eurosport (previously a partnership with TF1 of France). Other collaborations include Discovery Family (formerly The Hub) with Hasbro and OWN with Oprah Winfrey, and the group has acquired local cable strands in markets as diverse as Scandinavia and the Middle East, as well as key broadcast rights including pan-European rights to the Olympics from 2018. Combined audience is more than 3bn subscribers in 220 countries worldwide, including 415m for TLC and 380m for the Discovery Channel. Group revenues were $6.5bn in 2016, split more or less equally between US and international operations, and also between advertising and carriage fees. In 2017, the group will get bigger still with the acquisition of lifestyle rival Scripps Networks Interactive, whose channels include HGTV, Food Network and the Cooking Channel. David Zaslav is CEO. Rich Ross is president of Discovery Channel. The Discovery Channel was originally launched in 1985 by documentary filmmaker John Hendricks with the funding from several different mediaowners. Following gradual consolidation of those investments, the group is now jointly controlled by Advance/Newhouse Communications (25% of voting shares) and Liberty Media/Global owner John Malone (22%). Founder Hendricks retired from Discovery's board in 2014. Adbrands does not currently profile this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

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Capsule checked 22nd February 2016


Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Aug 2017: Discovery Communications secured a deal to acquire cable rival Scripps Networks Interactive for around $14.6bn including the latter's debt. The merger will unite two of the leading forces in reality and lifestyle TV programming, combining Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC with Scripps' HGTV, Cooking Channel and Food Network. The group will have four of the five most watched channels among female TV viewers in the US, and will become the #4 cable channel operator by ratings after Disney, Comcast and Fox, with around 13% total share. However, share of affiliate fees is much lower.

Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Jul 2017: Global cable broadcaster Discovery Communications is in talks to merge with unscripted content competitor Scripps Networks Interactive. Discovery is known worldwide for brands including the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, and recently acquired European network Eurosport. Combined revenues last year were $6.5bn. The business is controlled by cable tycoon John Malone via a large minority stake. Family-controlled Scripps is a little over half Discovery's size, with strands such as Food Network, HGTV and the Cooking Channel. The two companies have discussed merger several times before, most recently in 2014, but the Scripps family were at that time unwilling to sell. The growing threat to traditional cable businesses from over-the-top streaming rivals is likely to have made them more open to a deal.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Sep 2016: Media tycoon John Malone is set to move more aggressively into sports ownership with a complicated deal to acquire Formula One motor racing via Liberty Media Corporation, one of several groups under his control. Liberty Media has acquired a 19% stake in Formula One from CVC private equity for $746m, and will acquire most of the sport's remaining voting shares early next year for around another $3.7bn in cash and stock. At the same time, the current Liberty Media Group entity - which comprises a one-third holding in ticketing and management company Live Nation among other assets - will change its name to Formula One Group. Former News Corp COO Chase Carey was named as its new chairman. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone - 86 next month - will remain CEO of the sport. Total value of the deal including debt is $8bn. CVC and other shareholders will retain non-voting equity. In addition to its immediate cash value, ownership of the hugely popular and profitable sport could ultimately be a significant asset for Malone's various other cable businesses, for example the Eurosport channel which also recently acquired exclusive TV rights across much of Europe to the Olympics after 2018. Eurosport is a division of Discovery Communications, controlled by Malone via a 29% shareholding. Liberty Media Corporation mostly manages Malone's US-specific investments, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball franchise and SiriusXM satellite radio, both of which will remain separate from F1. Liberty Global owns a collection of cable operators across Europe including Virgin Media in the UK and Germany's Unitymedia, while Malone is also a major shareholder in the newly merged US cable operator Charter/Time Warner Cable, as well as the combination of pay TV channel Starz and movie studio Lions Gate.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Feb 2016: US media companies continued to take a hammering from investors after another collection of disappointing results. Discovery Communications delivered worse than expected figures for the final quarter. Annual revenues edged up 2% after currency headwinds, to $6.4bn, but net income slipped 9% to just over $1.0bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Jul 2015: Discovery Communications agreed to acquire the 49% stake it didn't already own in European cable channel Eurosport from partner TF1. The price tag values the business at E1bn, and follows Discovery's purchase of European broadcast rights to the Olympics from 2018.


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