The former president of Landmark Communications, and chairman of The Weather Channel, was picked by Advance/Newhouse which controls more than 25% of Discovery’s voting shares and has the right to name three board members. Anstrom replaces Larry Kramer who left in June after he was named publisher of USA Today. Discovery says in an SEC filing that Anstrom likely will serve on the board’s Audit Committee. Once the cable industry’s chief lobbyist, Anstrom was a member of Comcast’s board for a decade ending September 2011 when the company said he left “in order to satisfy other professional commitments that, among other things, will involve significant foreign travel.”
Although the goals were set independently, David Zaslav says that his joint venture with Oprah Winfrey is growing fast enough that it doesn’t have to expand to 85M homes — from 80M now — to fulfill his prediction that it will break even in the second half of 2013. “The ratings growth has been fantastic,” he told investors and analysts on Day 2 of the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. The “cherry on top,” he says, is that “we’re the home for Tyler Perry on television.” On Saturdays, OWN ranks first or second with black women, attracting more of the demo than ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC combined.
Zaslav’s comment about OWN reflects his overall optimism about the state of his company and the programming business. He acknowledged that ad sales were slow in October. Discovery was “hurt more by the Olympics than we expected” — in part due to his decision not to schedule strong shows against the games. But since the election both volume and pricing have been “quite good.” He warns that the outlook “could change a week or two from now” if there’s no compromise in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, although “it’s getting pretty late for [the negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff] to have an impact” in Q4.
Silver Spring, MD, November 27, 2012 – Discovery Communications today announced an agreement to acquire Dubai-based media company Takhayal Entertainment and its affiliated companies in Dubai and Egypt, including its flagship TV network, Fatafeat, the #1 food network in the Middle East. The parties are in final stages of formalizing the transfer with the competent authorities. The announcement was made by Takhayal CEO Youssef El-Deeb and Mark Hollinger, CEO of Discovery Networks International.
The transaction is a targeted step by Discovery to further extend its reach in the growing Middle East and North Africa television market, and to further complement and strengthen its existing portfolio of female-targeted lifestyle PAY TV brands, including TLC and Real Time, which are now available in more than 150 countries outside the U.S. The acquisition also will provide access to a vast library of cooking recipes and shows and the company’s production facility.
The companies’ announcement is short on details, but says that Discovery is engaged in “exclusive negotiations” that could result in a significant investment and alliance with the French media holding company. Discovery might help TF1′s Eurosport, the continent’s largest sports network which reaches 130M households. They’re also discussing a plan to enhance “both companies’ Pay TV offerings in France.” In addition, Discovery and TF1 said that they could develop “a mutually beneficial content production relationship.” The goal is to “create value for both companies across their numerous complementary business activities.” Discovery shares are up 2.3% in mid-afternoon trading.
Discovery CFO Andy Warren says that the goal is for his company to spend less this year than it did in 2011 on the joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, and for the channel to become cash flow neutral in the second …
Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s optimistic forecast to analysts this morning is a slight improvement from three months ago when he said that his joint venture with Oprah Winfrey would merely begin to break even by late next year. He’s impressed by recent audience growth at OWN — including the 20% ratings improvement in Q2 among women 25-to-54. “Candidly we’re significantly ahead of where we thought we would be,” Zaslav said in a conference call to discuss Discovery’s Q2 earnings. While Discovery doesn’t break out revenue and profit numbers for OWN, execs said that the channel spilled less red ink in Q2 than in did in the previous quarter which included the cost of shuttering Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show. The company warned that OWN’s losses could grow in Q3: It plans to spend more on marketing as well as programming. That’s “investing into momentum,” CFO Andrew Warren says. The recent audience growth is not a blip, according to Zaslav. “We’re quite confident that we’ve begun to find the recipe for a strong women’s network” that is “starting to be what Oprah and I talked about.” He calls OWN “one of the best brands in media, and for women it may be the best brand in media.” Winfrey is “more engaged” and the channel has a “good leadership team,” Zaslav says. He adds that Oprah.com has become an important part of the mix because it helps to provide direct contact with OWN’s viewers. He notes that all eight of its initial advertising partners continue to work with the channel.
Discovery’s UK production house, betty, will produce 2 new lifestyle series to air internationally on TLC. Travelogue/competition show Taste Off follows British chef Aaron Craze as he takes on cooks around the world, attempting to make national dishes as authentically as the locals. The series will travel to Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia and other countries before culminating in Australia where a Taste Off king will be named. Jon Sechrist is exec producer for TLC, Neil Smith is exec producer for betty. Ultimate Shopper pits fashion-lovers against each other in a series of
We’ll see pretty soon whether investors are more impressed by the $1B Discovery is adding to its stock-repurchase program than they are disappointed by the Q1 results — which include losses from its OWN joint venture with Oprah …
Not a surprise, but interesting nonetheless. The acquisition beefs up Discovery‘s online presence; this is the biggest digital deal the non-fiction video power has made since 2007, when it paid about $250M for HowStuffWorks.com. The companies don’t say how much Discovery paid for Revision3, although I hear it’s around $30M. Here’s the announcement:
(Silver Spring, Md.) – Discovery Communications announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire San Francisco-based digital video provider Revision3. Leveraging Revision3’s vast experience in creating engaging online video content in a cost-effective manner, the transaction helps fuel Discovery’s strategy of being the number one nonfiction media company on all screens.
“Discovery’s mission to ignite viewers’ curiosity and its history of pioneering new platforms – from cable to HD to 3D – make it the logical leader in this explosive new wave of digital video growth,” said JB Perrette, Chief Digital Officer, Discovery Communications, who made today’s announcement. “With Revision3’s industry-leading management team and roster of great talent, we look forward to cultivating more original content and fresh personalities that resonate with passionate communities online and across all platforms, while enhancing our innovative marketing solutions for advertising partners.”
Kicking off Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season, Destination America will be the first network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation. The inclusive network, targeting Adults 25-54, will be available in 59.5 million homes and feature original series covering such diverse subjects as American food from Tex Mex to barbeque; American mysteries from Jesse James’ lost fortune to Area 51; America’s heroes from those who embody the values of our past to those who invent the technology of our future; as well as never-before-seen footage of America’s iconic landmarks, including Yellowstone National Park and the Everglade swamps.
The money angle is important for the beleaguered joint venture between Discovery and Oprah Winfrey. That’s why the big news from today’s announcement — even if it isn’t in the official release — is that Comcast is going to start paying for OWN beginning in January, as it increases its distribution of the channel to about 17M homes from the current 14M. Comcast hadn’t paid for the channel going back to its pre-2011 incarnation as Discovery Health. Some info about the deal leaked over the weekend. The Comcast arrangement will bring OWN up to about 85M homes. While specific terms are still under wraps, OWN’s recent deals have run about three years, and start at 20 cents per subscriber per month. That’s a vast improvement from the current rate which SNL Kagan estimates at about two cents. The channel’s backers are eager to get its finances in order: The recent cancellation of Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and lay off of 30 employees could save OWN about $40M. SNL Kagan recently said that OWN could lose $142.9M this year, but Discovery responded that the analysis was “riddled with inaccuracies and bad information.”
Here’s today’s announcement:
It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M …