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Who Might Want To Buy AMC Networks, Scripps, Or Starz?

CBS, Disney, Fox, and Time Warner are the easy answers — and the ones that many financial types believe are eyeing the independent programming network companies following Comcast’s $45.2B agreement to buy Time Warner Cable. AMC Networks logoBut Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger takes the conversation a step further today with an intriguing report that suggests several less obvious potential buyers for AMC Networks, Scripps or Starz. Distributors including DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter, AT&T and Verizon might want to take a page from Comcast’s playbook when it bought NBCUniversal. DirecTV doesn’t offer broadband, so it has “additional motivation to take some action to future-proof the business,” possibly by offering exclusive access to certain networks, Juenger says. Charter and Dish are long shots: Charter probably could only afford AMC. And Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen seems intent on acquiring airwave spectrum, although “nobody really knows Mr. Ergen’s potential plans, and they could change.” AT&T and Verizon’s corporate cultures are “a step (or three) further removed from the content business.” Yet here, too, they might take a leap since “their historical core businesses are not exactly growing, and they could amass the financial resources.”

Related: What A Comcast-TWC Could Mean For Hollywood

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Discovery Isn’t Preparing A Bid For Scripps Networks, Although It’s Intrigued

Talk about a Discovery-Scripps Networks deal appears to be premature. Discovery execs are engaged in what-if conversations about the idea of bidding for the owner of HGTV and discoverycomm1Food Network. But the company hasn’t prepared an offer, and doesn’t have bankers working on one, as it focuses on opportunities to expand its clout overseas, I’m told. Are Discovery execs intrigued by Scripps? Sure — its lifestyle programming could complement Discovery’s. And everyone’s weighing M&A at a time when interest rates are so low. So never say never. But there’s been no fundamental change recently. That may disappoint investors who became excited by Variety‘s report that Discovery’s considering a play for Scripps. Its shares rose 7.6% today to $81 — after touching an all time high of $85.73.  scrippsAnalysts had mixed reactions to the deal talk. Citigroup’s Jason Bazinet downgraded Scripps to “sell,” saying that Discovery’s focus on international expansion makes the excitement about a bid ”unwarranted.” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says that there’s a “persuasive strategic rationale” for a combo if Discovery can help open doors overseas for Scripps’ networks. Moffett Nathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says that both companies have been grappling with soft ratings, so a deal “could help change the near-term U.S. narrative” to potential cost synergies. Wunderlicht Securities’ Matthew Harrigan is intrigued by Discovery’s “heft for affiliate fee wrangles” with cable and satellite distributors. And Macquarie Securities’ Amy … Read More »

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Will Discovery Make A Play For Scripps Networks?

Investors are excited by a report in Variety that says the matter was discussed at a Discovery board meeting today. Scripps Networks shares are up 15.6% in post-market trading to $87, Scripps Networks logowhich would be a new high and give it a market value of about $12.7B. The owner of HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel would be an interesting target for Discovery. CEO David Zaslav told investors yesterday at the USB Global Media and Communications Conference that he considers the U.S. cable market to be mature. This year he spent $1.7B for Scandinavian TV and radio company SBS Nordic and paid $222M for a 20% stake in Eurosport. He also looked at Liberty Global’s Chellomedia, which AMC Networks ultimately bought for $1B. discoverycomm1Still, Scripps is one of the few, large independent owners of must-have cable channels — and investors have long wondered when someone would make a bid. Discovery CFO Andrew Warren told his shareholders in October that the company’s “first priority” is to invest “in our core businesses…be it through investing in existing networks and platforms or through exploring acquisition opportunities.” If Discovery owned Scripps it likely would try to persuade cable and satellite companies to pay higher fees for its content — about 69% of Scripps revenues last year came from advertising. Any bid would have to pass muster with the Edward W. Scripps Trust, which controls about … Read More »

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Scripps Networks CEO Upbeat About Programming And Economy

By | Wednesday September 25, 2013 @ 7:52am PDT

Add Scripps Networks CEO Ken Lowe to the parade of programming execs who are telling investors that the pay TV bundle will stay intact, no matter what consumers want. “We are not going to go to an a la carte business,” he said this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. Bundled channels offer “a great consumer proposition.” He also doesn’t think that Sen. John McCain will “gain any traction” with his bill that would promote consumer choice. Even so, the head of the lifestyle channel company says Scripps’ relatively small size isn’t a liability when he negotiates payment deals with cable and satellite distributors. “It’s more about quality over quantity. Our six networks historically do more domestic advertising than peer groups that have twice the number…. Distribution partners are going to look more and more at what each network brings to the table.” He’s upbeat about HGTV as the economy improves. “People are feeling a bit better about their homes” which makes them “more willing to watch [shows about] home improvement projects.” His show Love It Or List It “is doing a great job.” There was no mention of the axing of celebrity chef Paula Deen in the discussion about Food Network’s recent ratings slide. But Lowe says that the programming for the fall is “impressive” and promised that “we’ll see some improvement.” The company is still Read More »

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Scripps Networks Chief Information Officer Ron Johnson To Retire; Bob Baskerville To Take Over Tech Post

By | Monday August 19, 2013 @ 4:30pm PDT

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.–Bob Baskerville, a member of the original team that helped launch HGTV nearly 20 years ago, has been named chief information officer for Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. (NYSE: SNI). Baskerville will provide leadership and oversight for all information technology operations at the company, which operates a portfolio of popular lifestyle television networks, websites and related content businesses. In addition to HGTV, Scripps Networks Interactive brands include Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country. Baskerville, who currently serves as chief operating officer for the company’s growing international business, will succeed current Chief Information Officer Ron Johnson, who has announced his intention to retire at the end of the year.

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Amazon Licenses Streaming Rights For Scripps Networks Shows

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 7:27am PST

SEATTLE–Feb. 28, 2013– (NASDAQ: AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. today announced a content licensing agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (NYSE: SNI) that will make Prime Instant Video a subscription home to hundreds of episodes from past seasons of hit TV shows from the Scripps family of brands: HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel.

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Scripps Networks Q2 Results Top Forecasts With Contributions From Food Network

By | Thursday August 2, 2012 @ 4:47am PDT

Investors have been warming to the lifestyle cable channel company. And if Scripps can assure them that programming costs are under control, it likely helped itself this morning. It projected that total year revenues could rise as much as 12% due to better-than-expected ad sales — and reported better-than-expected Q2 results. Net income of $191.4M is +57.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $601M, +12.5%. Revenues came in ahead of the Street’s expectation of $592.8M. And earnings of 93 cents a share beat forecasts for 87 cents. The Food Network stood out with revenues +16.5% to $218.5M. The next biggest channel, HGTV, was +8.4% to $205M. But GAC remains a problem. It was -15.4% to $5M, even though it expanded its reach by 4% to 62.6M pay TV homes. Overall, though, CEO Kenneth Lowe says that Scripps’ channels “attract a highly qualified and upscale audience that our advertising partners value. We set a company record this year for advance advertising sales and reached an important distribution agreement that will make our content easily and widely accessible to millions of consumers on tablets and other mobile platforms.”

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Scripps Networks Exceeds Q1 Expectations As Programming Costs Rise

By | Thursday May 3, 2012 @ 4:46am PDT

The home of HGTV and the Food Network seemed to deliver in Q1. It had net income of $157M, up 8% vs early 2011, on revenues of $535.3M, up 11.3%. The revenue figure compares to Wall Street’s expectation of $519.4M. And earnings per share at 73 cents beat the forecast of 60 cents. The company says that ad sales rose 10% to $356M while fees from pay TV providers were up 16% to $168M. That outweighed the 17% rise in expenses, which Scripps attributes to programming costs as well as investments in “a number of planned growth initiatives.” Food Network cooked up strong results with revenues up 14% to $199M. HGTV, which struggled to find its footing in the anemic housing market, was up 8.4% to $186M. Great American Country continues to vex investors: Its revenues fell 23% to $5M. CEO Kenneth Lowe says that the Q1 results reflect “the strong relationships we’ve forged with media consumers, advertisers and content distributors.”

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Scripps Networks Interactive To Buy Travel Channel International In £65 Million Deal

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. (NYSE: SNI) today reached an agreement to acquire Travel Channel International Limited (TCI), an independent company headquartered in the United Kingdom that distributes the Travel Channel brand in 20 languages across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.

The company produces and commissions original travel programming for distribution in 91 countries.

Scripps Networks Interactive will pay £65 million to acquire TCI. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2012 pending regulatory approval.

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Media Stocks -5.4% As Fresh Data Suggest The Economy Continues To Weaken

The bears are back. After a relatively calm week, stocks prices across the board — including in media — are tanking today following reports that point to rising unemployment and inflation, and weakness in manufacturing. An hour before the market close, the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and NASDAQ indexes for media stocks each were down at least 5.4%. Among the Big Media giants CBS is -10.7% followed by Time Warner (-6.1%), Sony (-5.7%), News Corp (-5.2%), Viacom (-5.2%), Comcast (-4.8%), and Disney (-3.2%). Elsewhere  on our watch list, Pandora Media (-12.9) is taking the biggest hit with LIN TV -9.4%. Others falling at least 8% include Gannett, Live Nation, Entercom, IMAX, Radio One, McGraw-Hill, and Discovery. Those off at least 7% include Cablevision, Amazon, TiVo, Netflix, McClatchy, Coinstar, Arbitron, and Scripps Networks. And companies down at least 6% include Barnes & Noble, Washington Post, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcasting, Outdoor Channel, and Dish Network. The only gainers are Lionsgate (+0.3%) and Cinedigm (+1.3%).

Media stocks likely will take even more punishment if the economy weakens. When times are bad shares of companies with high fixed costs, lots of debt, and that depend on ad sales, fall more dramatically than the overall market, Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin says today.  She says that Discovery may be the best media stock to own now — but adds that it would be even safer for investors to own a fund of stocks that mirrors the S&P 500.

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Scripps Acquires Virgin’s Stake In UKTV

By | Monday August 15, 2011 @ 6:18pm PDT

Scripps Networks Interactive and Virgin Media announced the agreement today. UKTV is one of Britain’s leading multichannel TV programming companies. Scripps Networks will pay about $390M to purchase Virgin Media’s 50% common equity interest in the UKTV partnership and also will pay about $163M to buy the outstanding preferred stock and debt owed by UKTV to Virgin Media. BBC Worldwide is the other 50% stakeholder in UKTV. Completion of the transaction is contingent on regulatory approvals in the Republic of Ireland and Jersey. UKTV is a significant opportunity for Scripps  to participate in a thriving multichannel dual-revenue stream media biz in one of the world’s largest television markets, according to Kenneth Lowe, Chairman/President/CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive. “Making a solid investment in UKTV and entering into a strong partnership with BBC Worldwide reinforces our core international strategy which we believe will create significant long-term value for our shareholders.” Related to the transaction, Scripps Networks Interactive and BBC Worldwide are negotiating an agreement whereby, after completion, BBC Worldwide would have the option, via a combination of cash and a package of digital rights for UKTV, to increase its shareholding from 50% to a maximum of 60%. Scripps’ existing voting rights and board representation would be unaffected by this proposed arrangement, which would be subject to BBC Executive and BBC Trust approvals.

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