Discovery Communications

by Brendan Germain

Discovery Logo [1]

One Discovery Place Silver Spring, MD 20910 — 240.662.2000

“Discovery is dedicated to satisfying curiosity, engaging and entertaining viewers with high-quality content on worldwide television networks…” [2] 


COMPANY PROFILE

As the number one pay-TV programmer and non-fiction media company, Discovery Communications paves the way for cross platform content appealing to 2.7 billion subscribers across 150 cable networks in over 220 countries. Discovery’s commitment to innovation and segmenting audiences has earned it its place as a leader in targeted media programming headed by Discovery Channel, operating also the Animal Planet, Hub Network and a joint venture with the OWN network among others. The company’s online and media services work in conjunction with its cable programming and have made Discovery a true multi-media, synergistic company.


KEY EXECUTIVES

David Zaslav- President and CEO [4]

Andrew Warren-Senior Executive VP and CFO [5]

Marjorie Kaplan- Group President Discovery Channel [6]


HISTORY

John Hendricks, a West Virginia bred, University of Alabama grad, founded the Cable Educational Network in Maryland back in 1982. Discovery Communications would soon grow from the launch of the Discovery Channel in1985. By 1988 the cable programmer had amassed over 32 million subscribers and by 1991, after acquiring The Learning

Discovery Logo-1988

Discovery Logo-1988 [9]

Channel (TLC) and launching Discovery in Europe, the company changed its name to Discovery Communications. Over the next 10 years, the company would see considerable international growth in Asian, African and Middle Eastern markets and soon launched a $10 million news site distributing original news content on its Discovery homepage [7]. In 2004 Hendricks stepped down as CEO passing it off to current position holder David Zaslav and this past May, Hendricks retired as Chairman, leaving the company he had built over the past 35 years with a drive towards the environment, education and technological advances. [8] 


FINANCES

This past quarter, coming in early November, saw a 14% increase for Discovery Communications (DISCA) on the NASDAQ year-over-year (YOY), with revenue at $1.57 billion [10].

DISCA’s Yearly Stock Price as of December 1, 2014  CLICK TO VIEW CURRENT CHART [12]

The publicly traded conglomerate has been on a rise in stock price, ending around $34 dollars recently with around 148 million shares outstanding. Since 2010, DISCA has been on a mass buyback movement to repurchase in excess of 25% of its stocks to consolidate its outstanding shares, giving the company more control over its numerous domestic and international platforms [11]. The company is segmented into three areas of revenue–Domestic, International, and Education, the first two being programming and education being products and services. Revenue for the domestic programming has seen minimal drops of 1% YOY as advertising budgets for the company have raised 3%, while the international segment as seen rises as high as 34% in revenue, in direct relation with Discovery’s acquisition of Eurosport [13]. Discovery is projected to reach a total revenue between $6.3 billion and $6.35 billion for this 2014 fiscal year.


 ACQUISITION OF EUROSPORT

Staking its claim as the #1 Pay-TV programmer for educational, niche content across its over 200 networks domestically and internationally, Discovery has taken a turn towards broadcast and  sports media sphere with its spring

Eurosport Logo [15]

Eurosport Logo [15]

acquisition of Eurosport. Eurosport, the premier sports media group in Europe, is valued at $1.2 billion and reaches over 133 million homes. TF1, the French media conglomerate had previously owned 80% of the company before Discovery pushed to expedite the deal which had been set for 2015, though TF1 will holds its stake in the sports media group until the end of the year. [14].

[Click here to view Eurosport’s promo stinger]

Discovery acquired 51% of the company, with TF1 being the only other owner holding the remaining 49%. DISCA is looking to capitalize on the fragmented nature of the sports broadcast industry over in Europe, a step in a different direction from their pay-TV and cable roots, in hopes of building up Eurosport to the status of Europe’s version of ESPN [16].

"Eurosport is a perfect strategic fit for growing market share, strengthening relationships with advertisers and affiliates, and bringing ‘must have’ content to passionate viewers across the globe...” [17] 
      -Discovery CEO David Zaslav-

There are talks already about the possibility of Discovery buying out TF1, giving DISCA full ownership of Eurosport, in turn adding six new pay-TV brands to Discovery’s arsenal.


 DISCOVERY CHANNEL

The network that started it all, Discovery Channel (formerly The Discovery Channel), excels at non-fiction programming reaching over 100 million homes in the U.S. and over three times that amount internationally. Launched in 1985, Discovery Channel produces science, nature, adventure and history geared television, among other genres, and has revved up its live-streamed programming over the past few years [18]. In June 2013, Discovery aired a live program special with adventure enthusiast Nik Wallenda traversing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope [19]. The record breaking broadcast event amassed over 13 million viewers, Discovery’s highest-rated live event, with an additional 1.3 million trending Tweets about the stunt, awarding DISCA an Interactive Emmy for Multi-platform storytelling. Discovery Channel followed Wallenda again earlier this month in his tightrope walk between two Chicago skyscrapers at a 15-degree angle, aptly titled SKYSCRAPER LIVE WITH NIK WALLENDA.

Play to view highlights of Nik Wallenda's SKYSCRAPER LIVE walk [21]

Though not drawing the magnitude of coverage as his Grand Canyon walk, this live event in addition to others showcase Discovery’s risky intent to air content to attract an audience, stunts so daring that someone could die [20]. Understanding this, Wallenda carried a $20 million public liability insurance claim, should anything catastrophic have happened. The tightrope walk was a success and coming this May, Discovery Channel intends to air live footage of expert climber Joby Ogwyn’s Mount

SURVIVAL LIVE Logo [24]

SURVIVAL LIVE Logo [24]

Everest jump in a winged suit, titled EVEREST JUMP LIVE, hooking up eight cameras to his suit to get full 360 degree coverage [22]. In addition, the network is continuing on its multi-platform successes with a new, interactive program called SURVIVAL LIVE, a 42-day survivalist event pitting 8 strangers against each other in the remote wilderness [23].The cross-platform media gives viewers the ability to track survivalists biometric, medical statistics during the 24 hour live-streamed event as well as the option to donate needed supplies or help online. Moving to attract a growing, interactive audience, Discovery is prompting new growth in cross-media programming and their push for high adrenaline, live-streamed events sets them apart from other cable networks.


 DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL

Since being renamed this past October, Discovery Family, formerly The Hub Network, DISCA’s children geared daytime programming network, has broadened its program offerings in a strengthened partnership between Discovery Communications and Hasbro,

Hasbro, Inc. Logo [25]

Hasbro, Inc. Logo [25]

Inc. The Hasbro Studios have published upfronts intending to move into primetime television timeslots [26]. With Discovery owning 60% in this joint venture, Discovery Family is projected to have over 70 million U.S. homes tuning in to programs and the two look to move into nightly family targeted programming. The two corporations will both capitalize on producing branded content, marketable to advertisers, and accessible for both children and families [27].


UP AND COMING

Discovery has recently paired up with Sony Entertainment Network to bring channels from DISCA to Play Station Vue, Sony’s cloud-based, internet television service [28]. Sony’s subsidary, Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI), will offer the subscription based service to current users of a PS3 or PS4 come early 2015, totally over 35 million users. The deal will bring Discovery’s 13 U.S. networks to users, in addition to next-gen services like Discovery Digitial Networks [29].

Theorized PlayStation Vue Format [15]

Theorized PlayStation Vue Screen [30]

This is new territory for Discovery, a cloud streaming service, and whether or not users will be willing to pay for the subscription fees is up for debate. Prices per month have yet to be set, though the service brings DISCA’s historically cable programming to an internet based provider follows the path Discovery Communications is walking in becoming a more cross-media driven media group and high-level television programmer.


  SOURCES

[1]Discovery Logo corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/18/14

[2] Corporate Mission corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/18/14

[3] Company Profile Information biz.yahoo.com RT:11/18/14

[4] David Zaslav Image corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/18/14

[5] Andrew Warren Image corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/18/14

[6] Marjorie Kaplan Image corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/18/14

[7] Discovery History referenceforbusiness.com RT: 11/18/14

[8] Hendricks Leaves Discovery variety.com RT: 11/18/14

[9] Discovery Logo 1988 logos.wikia.com RT: 11/24/14

[10] DISCA Annual Finances finance.yahoo.com RT: 11/24/14

[11] DISCA Quarterly Report corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/24/14

[12] DISCA Yearly Stock Chart finance.yahoo.com RT: 11/27/14

[13] Discovery Segments/Projections zacks.com RT: 12/1/14

[14] Discovery Acquires Eurosport nytimes.com RT: 11/28/14

[15] Eurosport Logo eurosport.com RT: 11/28/14

[16] Discovery Moves to Broadcast corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/28/14

[17] David Zaslav Quote corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/29/14

[18] Discovery Channel Profile corporate.discovery.com RT:11/29/14

[19] Discovery Live Streams press.discovery.com RT: 11/29/14

[20] Risk of Live Events nytimes.com RT: 11/29/14

[21] SKYSCRAPER LIVE Highlights Footage youtube.com RT: 11/29/14

[22] Everest Jump Live deadline.com RT: 11/29/14

[23] SURVIVAL LIVE press.discovery.com RT: 11/29/14

[24] SURVIVAL LIVE Logo adage.com RT: 11/29/14

[25] Hasbro, Inc Logo hasbro.com RT: 11/30/14

[26] Hasbro, Inc Partnership investor.hasbro.com RT: 11/30/14

[27] Discovery Family Deal corporate.discovery.com RT: 11/30/14

[28] PlayStation Vue Contract polygon.com RT: 12/1/14

[29] Discovery/Vue Offerings corporate.discovery.com RT:12/1/14

[30] PlayStation Vue Screen polygon.com RT: 12/1/14

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