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:
Global Showbiz Briefs: No Charges Yet In French ‘Survivor’ Player’s Death; ‘Game Of Thrones’ Sets UK Streaming Record; More
Prosecutors: Charges Not Imminent In Death Of French ‘Survivor’ Contestant
French prosecutors in the Parisian suburb of Creteil have denied reports that they plan to open a criminal investigation into the March death of reality show contestant Gérald Babin. Babin suffered a heart attack during the first day of shooting on Koh-Lanta, France’s local version of Survivor, and a preliminary manslaughter inquiry was later opened. At the time, anonymous sources called into question the show’s handling of Babin’s collapse. But reports that surfaced in the French media this morning, which said the opening of an official judicial investigation was imminent, are incorrect. “You cannot set a timetable. No decision has been made,” prosecutors told AFP. Babin’s death preceded the April suicide of the show’s physician Dr. Thierry Costa, who left a note saying he was confident he had treated Babin “as a patient and not a contestant” but that he was distraught by “false accusations and assumptions” in the media. Koh-Lanta started airing in 2001 and is one of leading network TF1′s flagship series, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers. The network promptly shelved the 16th season and has yet to make a decision about the series’ long-term future.
‘Game Of Thrones’ Sets Streaming Record In UK
The third season of Game Of Thrones just became available on UK streaming service Blinkbox, resulting in a sales record with a 632% increase in revenue versus the same day last year. Owned by retail giant Tesco, Blinkbox is the only service currently carrying the season. The show airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK and holds the top three spots in Blinkbox’s rankings. Much as UKTV did with its giant lake-bound Mr. Darcy in celebration of the launch of its Drama channel, Blinkbox installed a giant dragon skull on a Dorset beach to promote the S3 release of Game Of Thrones.
The death of a participant on TF1 reality series Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, has resulted in the cancellation of the show’s 16th season. Gérald Babin suffered a heart attack and died on Friday during the first …
Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants to quell a potentially big shareholder concern: that his pay TV networks company might become embroiled in costly bidding wars for sports rights as a result of its new investment in TF1‘s Eurosport. (That’s part of two major deals the company announced this morning.) This is Discovery’s first direct foray into the sports business. But the near-insane buying frenzies are characteristic of the U.S. market, which is “completely different,” he said in a conference call this morning. Eurosport focuses on regionally popular niche sports including tennis, cycling, skiing, skating, and curling. That’s “more manageable, much more predictable,” he says. “There isn’t one sport that they have to have….It doesn’t strive to be that big massive platform, which is consistent with what we do.” Discovery also is still feeling its way: It agreed to pay $221.6M for a 20% stake in Eurosport. It has an option to raise its holding to 51% in two years. If it does, then TF1 can require Discovery to buy the remaining 49% as well.
Discovery To Acquire ProSieben’s SBS Nordic Ops For $1.7B, Adds $1B To Stock Buyback Scheme, Outlines TF1 Alliance
Discovery Communications is widely expanding its footprint in Europe with the purchase of 12 TV networks and 19 radio stations in the Nordic countries. The company is also working on a strategic alliance with France’s TF1, as Deadline reported yesterday. The combined deals mark a roughly $2B investment by Discovery to increase its international reach. The deal for the SBS Nordic operations with Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 brings general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to Discovery’s suite of services for the first time. Via the TF1 deal, Discovery would take an initial 20% stake in pan-European sports network Eurosport as well as buying into some of TF1′s branded channels. Below are two press releases, the first outlining the SBS Nordic deal and the second on the TF1 alliance:
(Silver Spring, Md.) – Discovery Communications today announced a definitive agreement with ProSiebenSat.1 Group to purchase the company’s SBS Nordic operations for a total enterprise value of approximately $1.7 billion (€1.325 billion). The acquisition of SBS Nordic includes 12 television networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, among other assets, and further solidifies Discovery’s long-term growth in the strong Nordic TV markets. The deal also expands Discovery’s brand portfolio by adding general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to the company’s suite of services for the first time. The transaction is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close in early 2013. Additionally, Discovery also announced that its Board of Directors has approved a $1.0 billion increase to its existing stock repurchase program.
“SBS Nordic has a fully distributed portfolio of dual revenue stream networks with a terrific management team that will expand Discovery’s footprint across the Nordic region, which includes some of the most well-penetrated and stable TV markets in the world,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications. “Individually, and taken together, the acquisition of SBS Nordic, our pending strategic partnership with TF1 through the acquisition of a minority stake in Eurosport, and the increase in our share repurchase program are all complementary to our long-term growth strategy of delivering sustained operating results, creating strong organic growth through investment in content, brands and talent, and returning capital to shareholders.”
France’s TF1 today said its board of directors had voted to give company chief Nonce Paolini the greenlight to continue and finalize negotiations with Discovery Communications on a strategic alliance. On November 13, the companies disclosed they were in exclusive talks that could result in a significant investment by Discovery into the French media giant. Today, TF1 elaborated on the areas in which the two companies would partner and laid out some financials for the deal which is expected to close within the next few weeks.
TF1 said the two are looking to develop the future activities of Eurosport, the French conglom’s pan-European sports channel, which would see Discovery take a 20% minority interest in the Eurosport group for about $222M. Discovery would also have the option of increasing its stake to 51% after two years, at which point TF1 could exercise a put option lifting Discovery’s ownership to 100%.