Discovery Communications

By Parker Davis

Discovery Communications Logo- image courtesy of

Overview [1] [2]

TLC Logo- image courtesy of

John Hendricks originally founded Discovery Communications under the name Appalachian Community Service Network in 1982. The first station launched was The Learning Channel, an educational station for youths and adults alike. When the company changed its name to Discovery Communications in 1985, other education based channels were established such as the Discovery Channel and the first 24/7 HD basic cable channel, Discovery HD, currently known as Velocity [1]. Today, Discovery Communications is the world’s #1 subscription based television network, reaching over 2 billion subscribers in 220 countries. They own over 200 television stations including: the Science Channel, Animal Planet, and OWN. Outside of television, Discovery Communications is also a large publisher of educational books and operates online media channels such as Revision3 and [2].

Executives [3]

John S. Hendricks- image courtesy of



John S. Hendricks: Founder and Chairman Discovery Communications



David M. Zaslav- image courtesy of



David M. Zaslav: President and CEO Discovery Communications



Jean Briac Perette- image courtesy of



Jean Briac (JB) Perette: President Discovery Networks International





Financials [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

Discovery Communications is publicly traded under three stock series: DISCA, DISCB, and DISCK. Each ticker symbol translates to series A, B, and C stock. The newer issuances indicate a new corporate milestone, thus returning a higher company valuation number, resulting in a higher IPO for the new distribution of shares. DISCA contains the most shareholders. Within the previous three months, DISCA prices ranged from $76.80 to $85.97. Currently, it is recovering from its lowest point in the period, occurring April 15, 2014, and slowly increased 1.7% to $77.83 on April 18 [4].

Comparison of DISCA, DISCB, DISCK over a three month period- courtesy

Comparison of DISCA, DISCB, DISCK- image courtesy of

In the Annual Financial Statement for 2013, total revenue equated to $5.54 billion. A 19% increase over 2012, which generated $4.49 billion, a mere 8% increase over 2011 [5]. This growth is credited in their recent “acquisition of the majority stake in Eurosport International will drive international to contributing more than 50 percent of total company revenue” [6]. Discovery Communications possesses only 1% of total market share, competing alongside other media conglomerates such as: A&ENBCUniversal, and Viacom [7] [8].

Retirement and the Curiosity Project [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

John S. Hendricks- image courtesy of

Discovery founder and chairman, John Hendricks, officially announced his retirement in March. He will formally resign during the annual shareholder’s meeting on May 16; however, he has not released who will take his place as chairman. Although, sources speculate that current CEO, David Zaslav, may be a potential candidate for the position [9]. In his retirement letter to the board of directors, Hendricks explained that he will “spend the next few years traveling the planet and discovering the questions and mysteries that intrigue us all.” He will also use the opportunity to expand his new business, Curiosity Project LLC, announced February 10 of this year [10].

The mission of Curiosity Retreats is to create a unique forum where the lifelong curious can gather to explore in-depth the great questions of today. [11]

Curiosity Video Overview (Vimeo)

One currently operational aspect of the project is retreats for inspirational and open- minded thinkers alike. The retreats are five nights long at the Gateway Canyons resort in Colorado, including a panel of 8 different experts in the field of: science, technology, civilization, and human spirit [12]. The purpose of the retreat is to enlighten already intellectual minds and expand their imagination by collaborating and with others.

Gateway Canyons- image courtesy of

The new aspect of Hendricks’ venture is video on demand. His plan is to compile recordings of the experts from the retreats and publish their talks online for an annual fee of $19.99. However, this venture may prove impractical because there are already free services similar to his found in university publications and intellectual websites, such as TED [13].

Hendricks founded Discovery in 1982 and stepped down as CEO in 2004 and began his role as chairman on the board of directors. He was with the company for 32 years [14].

Eurosport [15] [16] [17]

Eurosport Logo- image courtesy of

Discovery Communications is expanding its international affiliations by moving into the televised sports market. On January 21, Discovery purchased controlling share (51%) in Eurosport for $1.2 billion [15]. Since April 2013, Discovery owned 20% stake in the station. The extension was made in a monetary agreement with TF1, a French television network and previous majority owner of Eurosport. The purpose of Discovery’s equity increase is to compete with British Sky Broadcasting and BT, a UK cable provider, for exclusive Premier League television rights [16]. Discovery chose to expand its control over sporting networks so it can combine its international sports rights with its US based stations to avoid competing head on with domestic sporting networks. The new international acquisitions expand Discovery’s network portfolio, thus inflating revenue and control over the total media market [17].

DogTV [18] [19] [20]

DogTV Logo- image courtesy of

Discovery Communications has recently purchased an unspecified percentage of DogTV: a 2 year old network that targets the dog owner demographic and airs content specifically for pet entertainment. The station is distributed through DirecTV and has a subscription fee of $5 for television viewing and $10 for online streaming [17]. Current programming on the network includes 3-6 minute clips focused on a dog’s relaxation, stimulation, and exposure. Discovery Communications has developed a strategic partnership with DogTV, jointly creating similar programming for Animal Planet while spreading the reach of the network to other countries. This tactic by Discovery can be seen as a gamble to invest in television for dogs, however, over 43.3 million US households own at least one dog, collectively spending over $55.8 billion annually on pet products, and over half of which claim their dogs show interest in what occurs on television [18]. The channel is designed to relieve the stress and anxiety of stay at home pets [19].

DogTV in The News (YouTube)

New Form [21] [22] [23]

Left to Right: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, David Zaslav- image courtesy

Discovery has co-founded and launched a new digital media site, New Form, alongside producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer [21]. The purpose of the studio is to infiltrate the scripted media market, whereas Discovery contains mainly non-fiction and reality based content. In the startup, the firm appointed Kathleen Grace, former Head of Creative Development for YouTube Space LA, as the Chief Creative Officer for New Form [22]. The videos created will be used in conjunction with current Discovery Digital Networks rather than creating a new site from the ground up. The venture was also announced the same week as Discovery’s upfront presentations to entice advertisers about the concept. Today, media advertisers divide their capital between television and online mediums, serving as a potentially dramatic advertisement revenue increase for Discovery.  Zaslav is making the push for Discovery to move into the Internet realm to make their channels easily accessible on all platforms for anyone to use [23].

Interview with David Zaslav and Ron Howard on New Form (Bloomberg)

Works Cited:

[1] Discovery Communications Founder John Hendricks to Retire as Chairman of Company’s Board. Discovery Communications. March 20, 2014. RT: April 13, 2014.

[2] Overview & Mission. Discovery Communications. RT: April 13, 2014.

[3] Leadership. Discovery Communications. RT: April 13, 2014.

[4] Google Finance Data. Google. RT: April 15, 2014.

[5] 2013 Annual Report. Discovery Communications. RT: April 15, 2014.

[6] Discovery CEO touts International Growth, Outlook. The Hollywood Reporter. Georg Szalai. April 3, 2014. RT: April 15, 2014.

[7] Introduction to the Entertainment & Media Industry. Plunkett Research, Ltd. RT: April 15, 2014. Used to calculate total market share.

[8] Top Competitors for Discovery Communications, Inc.. Hoovers. RT: April 15, 2014

[9] Discovery Communications Chairman John Hendricks stepping down. Los Angeles Times. Joe Flint. March, 20 2014. RT: April 17, 2014.

[10] John Hendricks Retirement Letter. John S. Hendricks. March 20, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014.

[11] Curiosity Mission Statement. Curiosity Retreats. RT: April 17, 2014.

[12] Curiosity About Page. Curiosity Retreats. RT: April 17, 2014.

[13] Discovery chairman John Hendricks to step down to pursue lifelong learning academy. Washington Post. Dan Beyers. March 23, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014.

[14] Cable Pioneer John Hendricks to Retire From Discovery Communications. Variety. Cynthia Littleton. March 20, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014.

[15] Discovery Takes Controlling Stake in Eurosport. New York Times. David Gelles. January 21, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014.

[16] Eurosport owner Discovery considering Premier League TV rights bid. The Guardian. Mark Sweney. January 24, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014

[17] Discovery to Take Control of Eurosport International. The Hollywood Reporter. Georg Szalai. January 21, 2014. RT: April 17, 2014

[18] Discovery Acquires Stake in DogTV, a Network Aimed at Canine Viewers. Variety. Todd Spangler. April 8, 2014. RT:April 18, 2014.

[19] Discovery Wants Your Dog To Watch More TV. Bloomberg Businessweek. Kyle Stock.  April 8, 2014. RT: April 18, 2014.

[20] Discovery Buys Stake In A TV Channel For Dogs. Huffington Post. Bill Bradley. April 11, 2014. RT: April 18, 2014.

[21] Discovery teams with Howard, Grazer for online shows. USA Today. Roger Yu. April 3, 2014. RT: April 18, 2014.

[22] Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Launch ‘New Form’ Digital Studio With Discovery. The Hollywood Reporter. Natalie Jarvey. April 2, 2014. RT: April 18, 2014.

[23] Howard, Grazer to team with Discovery on Web shows. New York Post. Claire Atkinson. April 2, 2014. RT: April 18, 2014.

Clear Channel Communications

by [Gabriel Sansone]

Clear Channel Communications Logo [1]

Who is Clear Channel?

Clear Channel Communications is a global entertainment and media company from San Antonio, Texas, that specializes in digital and radio platforms, as well as outdoor advertising. Clear Channel’s radio division, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, reaches 239 million monthly listeners in the United States, giving it the largest reach of any television or radio outlet in the country.[2] Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has holdings in 150 cities and owns 850 radio stations,[3] which can be heard via AM/FM transmission, Sirius/XM satellite radio, HD digital radio, the Internet, mobile applications on smartphones and iPads, and navigation systems from Garmin and TomTom. Other properties of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment include Premiere Radio Networks, the number one radio network in the country with 90 radio programs in syndication, and Katz Media Group, the leading media representation company in the U.S., with over 500 television and 4,000 radio stations.[2] Clear Channel Media and Entertainment also owns iHeartRadio, a free digital radio service that allows users to listen to more than 1,500 Live Stations.[2] Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is run by Chairman and CEO John Hogan, who graduated from Lake Forest College in 1979.[4]

Clear Channel’s History

Clear Channel Communications was founded in 1972 by Lowry Mays and Red McCombs as the San Antonio Broadcasting Company, and by 1984 Clear Channel had six AM and six FM stations in seven different markets. Clear Channel first entered the television business in 1988, and by 1995 was in control of 43 radio stations and 16 television stations in 32 different markets. With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the company acquired 49 new radio stations that covered 20 markets. In 1997, Clear Channel acquired Eller Media Company, helping it to become a leader in outdoor advertising. By 1999, Clear Channel was ranked by The Wall Street Journal as the fifth best-performing stock of the 1990s, and today, under the leadership of CEO Bob Pittman, Clear Channel continues to be one of the leaders in both the entertainment and advertising industries.[5]

What’s Clear Channel Doing Today? 


On September 27th, Clear Channel announced that it had struck a deal with Glassnote Entertainment Group to pay sound recording performance royalties to artists signed to the Glassnote record label, whether their songs are played via digital media or over the air.[6] The revolutionary deal, similar to one Clear Channel

Glassnote Entertainment Group Logo [8]

forged with the Big Machine Label Group in June, allows the label to receive a (undisclosed) percentage of Clear Channel’s digital and terrestrial advertising revenue, as opposed to just receiving revenue on a per-play basis.[7] Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman released a statement to the press, saying that the deal not only allows for Glassnote Entertainment Group artists to participate in Clear Channel’s radio revenues, but “it also creates a vibrant new digital radio business model that we believe will provide more money for the artists and the labels and more digital choices for the consumer.”[7] Popular Glassnote artists that will benefit from this deal include Mumford and Sons, Childish Gambino, and Phoenix.


On October 25th, Clear Channel announced that the company successfully completed a private debt exchange of $1,999, 815,000 for new notes that are worth the same principal amount but due in 2019.[9] As Clear Channel is currently in almost $20 billion in debt,[10] this debt exchange is a step in the right direction for providing the company with “greater flexibility to manage our debt maturities in the future,” says company Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tom Casey.[9] The offering was reportedly highly oversubscribed, which shows that debtholders are prepared to allow Clear Channel more years to repay some of its  debt.[11]

Throughout the week of October 27th, Clear Channel dismissed dozens of local radio D.J.’s across the country in an effort to revamp their 600 U.S. regional stations. In a company statement, spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg said the firings came about because Clear Channel rethought their regional market strategy and “reinvented our operations in those markets in a way that will let us…succeed using all of Clear Channel’s resources, scale and talent.” However, the layoffs proved controversial, as many media reform groups believe that Clear Channel is sacrificing radio’s integrity by replacing locally produced programs with less costly shows that are syndicated nationally.[10]

On October 29th, Clear Channel announced that it had stuck a deal with another record label, Naxos. Naxos is America’s largest digital distributor of independent

Naxos Logo [14]

classical music, with over 30,000 albums from various classical labels, including 6,500 on its own labels.[12] The deal is different from Clear Channel’s previous deals with Big Machine and Glassnote, as it only permits Clear Channel to pay Naxos for digital, not terrestrial, radio play.[13] The agreement is representative of Clear Channel’s current desire to continue to help radio permeate the digital world, and as part of the deal Naxos will assist with iHeartRadio’s digital classical station, “Classica.”[12]


On November 2nd, Clear Channel released their quarterly earnings report for the third quarter of 2012, which ended on September 30th of 2012. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment revenues experienced a 1%, $7 million dollar increase in comparison to the third quarter of 2011. This increase is due in large part to a 3% growth in radio revenues, which occurred as a result of increased national advertising, the growing popularity of digital radio service iHeartRadio, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.[15]

On November 20th, Clear Channel announced that its popular digital radio service, iHeartRadio, has been downloaded more than 135 million times and has over 20

iHeartRadio Logo [17]

million registered users. These numbers are particularly impressive, considering that iHeartRadio was launched a mere 13 months ago. In a company statement, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Chairman/CEO John Hogan said “iHeartRadio has reinvented the digital radio experience and is a key element of how Clear Channel continues to reshape the media and entertainment industry.”[16]


On November 29th, it was announced that innovative social commerce web site Lockerz made an agreement with iHeartRadio. Lockerz is a website on which users can discover the latest fashion trends and top brands, receive points (called PTZ) for sharing images and videos from the web, and use their PTZ for big discounts on fashion and electronic products.[18] Now, iHeartRadio’s 1,500 live and user-created custom stations are available on Lockerz, and members can earn PTZ for sharing and adding their favorite music and radio stations. Clear Channel hopes the agreement will help iHeartRadio to continue to grow in popularity. “Lockerz has built an incredibly passionate and social user base and is a great distribution platform for us,” said Brian Lakamp, President of Digital for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.[19]

What’s Next for Clear Channel? 

Clear Channel is helping produce the 12-12-12 concert, a show that will take place in New York City on December 12, 2012, with all proceeds from ticket purchases going to the Robin Hood

Poster for the 12-12-12 concert, featuring some of the notable artists who will be playing at the show [20]

Relief Fund to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The concert has already secured distribution to over one billion people via various mediums to maximize awareness and relief efforts, and in a joint statement, event producers James Dolan (Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company), John Sykes (President of Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises) and Harvey Weinstein (Co-Founder and Chairman of The Weinstein Company) said the concert and its media distributors “will enable us to create a tremendous and unprecedented fundraising effort on a global scale to benefit the victims of this devastating storm.”[21]

Tickets to the show are currently available on Ticketmaster

Because of its current debt situation, Clear Channel could be experiencing some financial turmoil in the future.  According to a Moody’s report released during the week of December 5th, while Clear Channel should be able to manage the amount of debt they have due through 2015, they could very well be unprepared to deal with the $10 billion of debt that will be due in 2016. Moody’s senior analyst Scott Van den Bosch writes that “the company’s ability to avoid restructuring will be challenging as debt levels will exceed our expected asset value. The possibility of a restructuring or a distressed exchange remains high…in our downside scenario the company is likely to face a restructuring of its balance sheet in excess of $16 billion in debt.” It is possible that Clear Channel will be able to avoid the restructuring, but it is going to “depend on the receptivity of the financial markets and moderate underlying interest rates.” So, in the future, Clear Channel will be very sensitive to changes in the economy.[22]

Contact Clear Channel

Wish to contact Clear Channel Communications?


Mail: 200 E. Basse Rd. San Antonio, TX, 78209.

Phone: (210) – 822 – 2828