Back in February, word began to spread that longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch were eyeing a joint acquisition of the UK’s Channel 5. Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, have now reportedly gone ahead and sewn up a deal. Broadcast reported that Discovery and BskyB are nearing an announcement they have acquired the broadcaster in a deal valued at £350M, which would give the former a 70% stake and the latter 30%. But media entrepreneur Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, owner of Channel 5, has said it received several bids and was still evaluating them, according to Bloomberg. The free-to-air broadcaster was thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend, but many were skeptical it would fetch such a price; Desmond paid about £103.5M for it in 2010. Other companies that have been said to have shown interest include Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital.
Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest; weekly average ratings hover around 4%. Read More »
An 18-year Discovery veteran, Rita Mullin is moving up from her role as EVP Programming and Development at OWN to General Manager of Science Channel. The announcement was made today by Eileen O’Neill, Group President, Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Velocity, to whom Mullin will report. Her new position is effective June 2. “I am excited to call myself the newest member of the Science Channel team,” Mullin said. “I want to ignite people’s passions with the stories we have to share. Science is now. We want to capitalize on people’s curiosity for the unknown with thought-provoking programming, bold talent and out-of-this-world entertainment.” Read More »
Discovery Communications is going to the dogs, via DogTV that is. The company has made an investment in 2-year-old channel bills itself as the first television network created just for canines. The companies also have formed a strategic partnership to help accelerate DogTV’s growth and allow for collaboration with Animal Planet. DogTV is a 24-hour network that effectively helps babysit stay-at-home pooches with programming specifically designed for their eyes and ears. Content is split into three categories — relaxation, stimulation and exposure — to help provide balance for their daily routines. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, program director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University, is DogTV’s chief scientist. Prior to the channel’s launch in 2012, he performed a study monitoring dogs’ behavior in their own homes, which captured viewing time and preferences, leading to the development of DogTV’s programming. Additional pet experts include Victoria Stilwell, of Animal Planet’s It’s Me Or The Dog, and veterinarian Dr Marty Becker, who frequently appears on Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show.
Related: Super Bowl Blowout Sends Record 13.5 Million To ‘Puppy Bowl X’
Read More »
This was a subtle contrast to last year when the company also highlighted scripted fare and trotted out a parade of celebrities including Mariel Hemingway, Morgan Freeman, William Hurt, LaToya Jackson, and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon. Filmmaker Ron Howard was perhaps the biggest new name showing up this year: He told Discovery advertisers that New Form — the online content production venture he and Brian Grazer are launching with the pay TV company — expects to “generate great scripted programming for today’s digital viewers.” They’re already weighing “several series” as they delve into “shortform content and all its possibilities.” Howard also intends to encourage other creative types to “bring their talent to New Form.” Oprah Winfrey returned, of course, to promote OWN. With its recent ratings success, “no one is happier than we are right now about what is happening to OWN.” She says the network is heading toward its “next evolution” with its first original scripted movie with Toni Braxton playing legendary studio singer Darlene Love, the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. She also brought out Tyler Perry for a second year; he talked up his soap opera The Haves And The Have Nots.
Related: Discovery Channel Unveils New Slate
Read More »
Apollo 13 meets Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Hard to say yet what might come from the venture, called New Form, that unites the Hollywood creative team — plus lawyer Craig Jacobson, TV exec Ed Wilson, agent Jim Wiatt, film exec Michael … Read More »
It’s not a slap on his performance — far from it in a year when Discovery shares appreciated 38%. But this year David Zaslav’s package didn’t include stock awards that accounted for $25.3M of his compensation in 2012. The 2013 tally … Read More »
Discovery Communications is facing yet another wrongful death and negligence lawsuit over the fatal helicopter crash on February 10, 2013, during filming of a reality show. Donald Rydstrom, the father of a cameraman killed along with two others while filming a military-themed Discovery Channel show, today filed a complaint in LA Superior Court (read it here) against its parent company seeking “general damages in a sum in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this Court, which will be stated according to proof.” Darren Rydstrom, cast member Michael Donatelli, and pilot David Gibbs died just after 3:30 AM on that February day last year when the helicopter they were in crashed in an open field at the Polsa Rosa Ranch in Acton, CA. The senior Rydstrom is claiming loss of love, companionship and support as well as “other benefits and assistance of Descendent” and more.
Related: Discovery Reality Show Chopper Crash Due To ‘Cost Cutting Measures”, Says New Lawsuit
Read More »
This is a milestone for the company, and the cable industry. John Hendricks is one of the business’ most influential programming pioneers, and possibly the most authentic and humble media mogul I ever met. He will retire both as chairman of the Discovery board and from the board itself after the annual meeting May 16. “Few words can appropriately convey what kind of person John is, or what he has meant to this company and the cable television industry overall,” CEO David Zaslav says. “He is a true visionary, a man of enormous integrity and one of the world’s great entrepreneurs.” A native of West Virginia but raised in Alabama, Hendricks founded Discovery in 1985 — inspired by his interest in documentaries, and a desire to create a company in the young but promising cable industry. It was a novel, and risky, venture but succeeded with timely support from CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, banker Herb Allen, and cable exec John Malone. Hendricks ran the non-fiction cable channel and company as CEO until 2004. In the 1990s, a time when cable consisted of analog signals, he was one of the first to promote niche-oriented digital networks. In 2002, he made Discovery HD Theater the first 24/7 HD channel on basic cable. In a letter to the board today he says that he plans to “spend the next few years traveling the planet and discovering the questions and mysteries that intrigue us all.” He also will focus on a new enterprise: Curiosity Project, which will sponsor Curiosity Retreats and the online Curiosity Club. The goal is “to nurture our natural human curiosity in a very substantial way. I am committed to building a lifelong learning academy operating within the private sector that offers deep dives into our curious questions about science, technology, civilization, and the human spirit.”
Here’s the complete farewell letter: Read More »
In a deal that gives it further access to the Chinese market, Discovery Communications has partnered with China’s Wasu Digital TV Media Group to supply content for new local pay-TV channel Qiu Suo. The subscription channel launched earlier this … Read More »
The firm behind shows including Gold Rush, Unexplained Files, and Dangerous Persuasions will have the freedom to expand into scripted programming and produce “high-quality independent films” following the deal, the companies say. They didn’t disclose how much Discovery paid for Raw, but say that it will “continue to operate independently from its London headquarters” with all of its current staff. “We are looking forward to Raw infusing our ever-expanding creative pipeline with compelling stories that will be seen on Discovery’s networks around the world,” Discovery Studios and Production Group President Lee Bartlett says. He adds that the deal is being unveiled on the same day that Discovery rebranded the Military Channel – now called AHC: American Heroes Channel. The two events illustrate “Discovery’s ongoing strategy of increasing investment in new brands, new content creators, new programming genres, and new opportunities across more platforms in more regions of the world,” Bartlett says. Read More »
In this week’s audio podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at the possibility that frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch will combine and snap up the UK’s Channel 5, even as a booming ITV opts out; and Amazon’s new combination platter of Prime services that are challenging Netflix more aggressively in Britain, including through a partnership with the BBC to revive the cancelled period drama Ripper Street. They also preview those other big awards this weekend, France’s Cesars, and take their weekly look at the international box office, as both Frozen and The Hobbit 2: The Desolation Of Smaug continue to rack up huge cumulative grosses.
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 27 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 27 (.M4A version)
Read More »
Are longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch about to partner on a UK venture? That’s the word on the street according to The Financial Times which reports that the Malone-backed Discovery … Read More »
This should give the Discovery chief a little more job security at a time when the air is filled with deal talk following Comcast’s $42.5B agreement to buy Time Warner Cable. Liberty Media Chairman John Malone gave … Read More »
In December 2012, Discovery Communications entered a strategic alliance with France’s TF1 and as part of the deal, it took a 20% stake in the group’s pan-European sports platform, Eurosport. At the time, Discovery said it had the option to raise its interest to 51% in two years. Today’s announcement accelerates that move by one year with Discovery upping its stake in Eurosport to a majority interest. TF1 will now retain a put option that could require Discovery to buy the remaining 49%. The flagship Eurosport network reaches 133M homes in 54 countries and 20 languages. It focuses on regionally popular niche sports including tennis, cycling, skiing, skating, and curling. The group also includes Eurosport, Eurosport HD, Eurosport Asia-Pacific and 24-hour channel and online hub, Eurosportnews. Following are the full details of today’s deal: Read More »
JB Perrette joined Discovery in 2011 as Chief Digital Officer. He’s since spearheaded the acquisitions of Revision3 and DeFranco Creative, as well as the launches of digital/online networks Animalist and TestTube, and the implementation of Skywire Live and Animal Planet L!VE, among other initiatives. The exec will replace Mark Hollinger who is resigning as president of Discovery Networks International after 23 years at the company. Perrette, who’s also a veteran of NBCUniversal, will oversee Discovery’s growing international business. Last year, the company acquired SBS Nordics and a 20% stake in Eurosport as well as launching TLC in the UK and growing overseas ratings by 25%. Perrette’s appointment comes two weeks after Discovery extended chief David Zaslav’s contract through 2019. Click over for full details of today’s news: Read More »
The conversations never became serious. Still, Scripps Networks shares are down 7.2% with heavy volume today after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company and Discovery Communications have “abandoned” the preliminary discussions. The fall brings Scripps’ … Read More »
The extension comes with a nice compensation bump for the Discovery chief, already one of the media industry’s highest paid CEOs with $49.9M in 2012. The goal is to make David Zaslav “a significant long-term shareholder in Discovery Communications,” the company says this morning adding that he “has committed to hold the majority of his equity from stock grants to term, furthering the alignment of shareholder and management interests.” Following a year when the company stock appreciated 36.2%, Zaslav’s annual salary will remain at $3M, but his target annual bonus for 2014 will go to $6.6M and rise by $600,000 a year until 2018 when it will be $9M, according to an SEC filing this morning. His 2011 contract set the target at $5M with annual increases of $500,000. By the end of March he’ll also receive 224,845 sign-on “performance-based restricted stock units” that will pay off if he remains on the job and the company meets undisclosed performance metrics at year end. He also will receive stock appreciation rights that pay off if the share price continues to rise. Zaslav will have a $1,400 a month car allowance and has personal use of the Discovery jet for 200 hours a year — although the company will only pay for the first 100 hours. The stock awards vest if someone else takes control of Discovery. “Securing David for the next six years recognizes his value to the enterprise, and provides continuity, strong leadership, and his trademark high energy to Discovery for many years to come,” company founder and Chairman John Hendricks says.
Here’s the company’s release: Read More »