Discovery Communications

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Discovery Communications, Inc.
Public company
Traded as
ISIN US25470F1049
Industry Mass media
Predecessor Discovery Holding Company
  • 1985; 32 years ago (1985) as The Discovery Channel
  • 1994; 23 years ago (1994) as Discovery Communications
Founder John S. Hendricks
Headquarters Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Area served
Key people
Revenue Increase US$6.497 billion (2016)[1]
Increase US$6.4 billion (2015)[1]
  • Increase US$2.4 billion (2016)[1]
  • Increase US$2.4 billion (2015)[1]
  • Increase US$1.19 billion (2016)[1]
  • Decrease US$ 1.03 billion (2015)[1]
Number of employees
7,000 (2015)

Discovery Communications is a mass media company based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The company was first established in 1985 as the owner of its namesake U.S. television channel, Discovery Channel; the company operates other major factual television networks in the United States as well, including Animal Planet, and TLC, along with other spin-offs of Discovery. It also owns or has interests in local versions of its channel brands in international markets, as well as other major regional operations such as Eurosport.

On July 31, 2017, the company announced it would acquire Scripps Networks Interactive for $14.6 billion.[4]

Corporate governance and history[edit]

NBCUniversal executive David Zaslav was named president and CEO on November 16, 2006.[5]

In addition to Zaslav, current executives include:[6]

  • Adria Alpert Romm, Chief Human Resources & Global Diversity Officer[7]
  • Bruce Campbell, Chief Development, Distribution & Legal Officer [8]
  • Bill Goodwyn, President & CEO Discovery Education[9]
  • Paul Guyardo, Chief Commercial Officer[10]
  • John Honeycutt, Chief Technology Officer[11]
  • David Leavy, Chief Corporate Operations and Communications Officer[12]
  • Jean-Briac (JB) Perrette, President, Discovery Networks International[13]
  • Gunnar Wiedenfels, Chief Financial Officer [14]

Prior to September 18, 2008, DCI's ownership consisted of three shareholders:

On September 17, 2008, Discovery Holding Company completed a restructuring plan. Discovery Holding's Ascent Media business was spun off, and the remaining businesses, Discovery Communications, LLC and Advance/Newhouse Communications, were combined into a new holding company, Discovery Communications, Inc.[15] The new fully public company and trades on the NASDAQ stock market under the symbols DISCA, DISCB, and DISCK. SEC filings are submitted by the Discovery Holding Company.[16]

In May 2014, the company announced a special dividend of shares of the Company's Series C common stock payable to holders of record of the Company's Series A common stock, Series B common stock and Series C common stock as of the close of business on July 28, 2014. As a result of the dividend, each holder of a share of the Company's Series A common stock, Series B common stock or Series C common stock will receive one additional share of the Company's Series C common stock on or about August 6, 2014.[17]

Through Group Nine Media, Discovery connects with millennial audiences through digital-first brands NowThis, Thrillist, The Dodo, Source Fed Studios and Seeker, which has 3.5 billion streams per month.[18][19]

In May 2014, Discovery and Liberty Global announced an agreement to form a 50:50 joint venture to acquire All3Media, a producer and distributor of TV programming.[20]

Liberty Global and Discovery Communications paid approximately $195 million for a 3.4% stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation in November 2015. Discovery CEO David Zaslav joined the Lion's Gate board of directors as part of the acquisition.[21][22][23]


DCI operates its businesses in the following groups: Discovery Networks U.S., Discovery Networks International, Discovery Studios Group, Discovery Digital Media, and Discovery Education.[24]

Discovery Networks U.S.[edit]

The company's namesake and flagship brand, Discovery Channel, first launched on June 17, 1985.[25][26] In 1991, Discovery Channel's owners acquired The Learning Channel.[27]

In October 1996, Discovery launched several new spin-off networks, including Animal Planet, and the digital cable channels Discovery Kids, Discovery Travel & Living, Discovery Civilization, and Science Channel. This was followed by the 1997 purchase of a 70% stake in Travel Channel, and the 1998 launches of Discovery en Español, Discovery Wings, and Discovery Health Channel.[28][29][30] Also in 1998, Discovery acquired a stake in the struggling CBS Eye on People channel; Discovery eventually acquired the remainder of CBS's stake, leading to its January 1999 re-launch as Discovery People.[31][32] The network quietly folded in 2000, being replaced by other Discovery channels on providers.[33]

On September 1, 2001, Discovery Communications bought The Health Channel, and announced that it would be re-branded as FitTV.[34] In 2002, Discovery re-launched Discovery Civilization as Discovery Times, as part of a joint venture with The New York Times.[35] In June 2002, coinciding with Discovery's 17th anniversary, the company launched a 24/7 high definition channel known as Discovery HD Theater.[36] In March 2007, Discovery sold its stake in Travel Channel back to Cox Communications, in exchange for the stake in Discovery that Cox owned.[37] Cox would later sell the controlling interest in the channel to Scripps Networks Interactive in 2009.[38] In June 2008, Discovery Home was replaced by Planet Green, a network devoted primarily to environmentalism and ecological living.[39]

On January 15, 2008, Discovery announced that it had entered into a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions to re-launch Discovery Health as a new service, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2009.[40] In 2008, Discovery Times was re-launched as Investigation Discovery, a new brand that would be dedicated to true crime programs and documentaries.[41] On April 30, 2009, Discovery announced a joint venture with Hasbro to re-launch Discovery Kids as a new youth- and family-oriented entertainment channel.[42][43] The channel, ultimately named The Hub, launched on October 10, 2010.[44][45] After multiple delays, OWN officially launched on January 1, 2011.[46][47]

On October 4, 2011, due to the wider rollout of high-definition feeds for mainstream cable channels, HD Theater was replaced by Velocity, a new "upscale male"-oriented channel focusing primarily on automotive-themed programming.[48][49][50] On May 28, 2012, Planet Green (which had begun to abandon its original concept by 2010 due to poor viewership)[39] was re-launched as Destination America.[51] In October 2014, Discovery acquired controlling interest in The Hub (then Hub Network) from Hasbro and re-branded it as Discovery Family.[52][53] In December 2015, Discovery launched Discovery Go, a TV Everywhere service offering access to live streaming and on-demand content from Discovery Communications' cable networks.[54]


There are 13 channels owned and operated by Discovery Networks U.S.

Channel Launch Date US Households as of August 2015[55] Notes
Discovery Channel 1985 91 million Flagship network
TLC 1972 89 million Acquired by Discovery Communications in May 1991, previously known as The Learning Channel.
Animal Planet 1996 88 million
Investigation Discovery 1996 84 million Formerly Discovery Times, Discovery Civilization
OWN 2011 77 million Joint venture ownership with Harpo Productions
Velocity 2002 71 million Formerly Discovery HD Theater and HD Theater
Science 1996 68 million
Discovery Family 1996 61 million Initially launched as Discovery Kids in 1996, relaunched as The Hub in 2010, renamed Hub Network on 2013 and rebranded as Discovery Family in 2014.[56]
40% of the network is owned by Hasbro.
American Heroes Channel 1999 53 million Formerly Discovery Wings, Military Channel
Destination America 1996 52 million Formerly Discovery Home and Leisure (1998–2004), Discovery Home (2004–08), and Planet Green (2008–12)
Discovery Life 2011 46 million Merger of Discovery Health Channel and FitTV, previously known as Discovery Fit & Health
Discovery en Español 1998 6 million Spanish-language version of the Discovery Channel
Unavailable in HD
Discovery Familia 2007 5 million[57] Unavailable in HD

Discovery Networks International[edit]

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific
Founded 1994; 23 years ago (1994)
Headquarters 3 Changi Business Park Vista, Singapore
Area served
Products Broadcasting, cable television, and video streaming

Led by flagship network Discovery Channel, Discovery Network International,[58] distributes international brands, including Discovery Channel, TLC, ID: Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science, Turbo and Eurosport. The company employs an extensive localization strategy by offering customized schedules and programming in 45 languages worldwide via hundreds of distribution feeds.

Discovery Networks International has five regional operations spanning Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA), Latin America/U.S. Hispanic, Northern Europe, and Southern Europe, with regional headquarters in Singapore, Warsaw, Miami, London, Mumbai and Milan.[59]

In June 2015, Discovery Communications won the multiplatform rights across Europe to the Olympic Games from 2018 to 2024.[60] Discovery and Eurosport promised more coverage than ever across screens to Europe's 700 million residents. Discovery paid 1.3 billion euros for the rights in 50 countries and renewed their long-term distribution agreement across 12 European countries with greatly expanded distribution rights over the long-term. This deal includes Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and Eurosport. The deal also includes digital rights.[61][62][63]

Discovery also signed deals with TDC [64] and Sky [65]

Eurosport has also expanded its deal with The All England Club to show all the Wimbledon matches live in 16 additional countries. It is a 3-year deal that includes exclusive TV and digital rights. This expands their tennis portfolio to show all four Grand Slams.[66]

Discovery Communications has partnered with BAMTech in November 2016 to launch BAMTech Europe, the technology provider will work with content owners, broadcasters and other over-the-top service providers in the region. Eurosport Digital will be the first client in order to upgrade its suite of digital products to be powered by BAMTech’s video platform.[67]

In May 2017, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery partnered on an OTT/Mobile Service in Germany. [68]

2015 Channel Launch Date International Networks Households as of[57] Notes
Discovery Channel 1989 436 million
Animal Planet 1997 347 million
TLC 344 million
Investigation Discovery 153 million
Eurosport 1 Acquired in 2014 151 million
Discovery Kids 1996 121 million
DMAX 2006 103 million Launch: 2006 Germany, 2008 UK & Ireland, 2011 Italy, 2014 Asia
Discovery Science 1997 102 million
Discovery Turbo/Discovery Turbo Xtra 2005 96 million
Quest 77 million
Eurosport 2 70 million
Discovery Home & Health 2000 65 million
Discovery World 1998

Discovery Communications also operates Living Channel and Food TV in New Zealand.[69]

Group Nine Media[edit]

In October 2016, Discovery announced a minority investment in and strategic partnership with Group Nine Media – a new media holding company consisting of Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, and Discovery’s digital network Seeker and Sourcefed Studios, creating a digital-first media company in U.S. with 3.5 billion monthly video views.

Discovery Education[edit]

Discovery Education is a division which offers "standards-based digital content for K-12" In 2013, Discovery Education expanded its reach by acquiring Espresso Group Ltd.[70] Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education's services are in half of U.S. classrooms, over 40 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries.[71]


After acquiring The Learning Channel (now TLC) in May 1991, Discovery announced plans in November 1994 to launch four new channels, including Animal Planet and what would later become Science Channel.[72]

In June 2002, Discovery Communications launched the first 24-7 HD network in the United States, Discovery HD Theater. HD feeds would later be launched for its networks in the U.S. and globally as the technology took hold in living rooms.

On March 17, 2009, Discovery revealed that it owned the rights to several patents related to e-books, in announcing a patent infringement lawsuit against, maker of the Kindle e-book reading device. The patents were originally developed by the company's founder John Hendricks; the specific patent in question in the suit was applied for in 1999 but issued in late 2007.[73][74]

On December 21, 2012, Discovery announced it had taken a 20% minority interest share with TF1 Group in sports broadcaster Eurosport, valued at €170 million (US$221.6 million).[75] On January 21, 2014, Discovery became the majority shareholder in Eurosport, taking a 51% share of the company.[76] In 2015, Discovery closed a transaction to acquire 100% of Eurosport.[77]

In April 2014, Discovery announced another digital investment in the form of a partnership with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard to launch digital studio, New Form Digital.

In May 2014, Discovery and Liberty Global announced an agreement to form a 50:50 joint venture to acquire All3Media, a producer and distributor of TV programming.

In August 2015, Discovery Communications launched Discovery VR, a cross-company virtual reality offering, after announcing its plans in May

In December 2015, Discovery launched the company's first U.S. TVE streaming service, Discovery GO, connecting viewers with live and on-demand access to shows and series from several U.S. networks in the Discovery portfolio – Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, Velocity, Destination America, American Heroes Channel and Discovery Life.

In Q2 2016, Discovery shifted its strategy entirely towards digital media, international markets, and diversifying content. In order to make up for shrinking cable network viewers, they have invested in direct-to-consumer offerings and digital distribution channels. 50% of their revenue was through affiliates this quarter. They took a minority stake in Chinese MCN VS Media, a company that has 55 million subscribers in China with more than 320 monthly video views.[78][79][80]

October 2016, Discovery purchased a minority stake in Group Nine Media – a new media holding company consisting of Thrillist Media Group, NowThis Media, The Dodo and Discovery’s digital network Seeker- for $100 million. Discovery will have the option in two years time to acquire a controlling stake.[81][3]

On July 31, 2017, the company announced it would acquire Scripps Networks Interactive for $14.6 billion.[82]

2010 hostage crisis[edit]

On September 1, 2010, the DCI headquarters was the site of a hostage taking, a lone gunman identified as James J. Lee, armed with two starter pistols[83] and an explosive device, took three people hostage inside of the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, prompting an evacuation of the building. Lee's motive was believed to have been grounded in environmental activism. Lee had previously been arrested in 2008 while protesting in front of the same site. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland has since labeled the crime a terrorist attack.[84]

The incident began at 1:00 p.m. ET, when 43-year-old James Jay Lee entered the building with two starter pistols and fired a single round at the ceiling of the lobby.[85][86] The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) confirmed that Lee had an explosive device and was holding three people[87] hostage in the lobby.[85][88] The building was placed on lockdown and most of the 1,500 employees were evacuated.[88] Children from a day care center inside were safely removed to a nearby McDonald's restaurant on Colesville Rd.[85] Lee was shot dead by an MCPD SWAT team at 4:48 p.m. ET after the hostages made a run to escape.[89] The remaining hostages were immediately freed.[90] The incident was described by the FBI as the first instance of a would-be suicide bomber taking hostages in the United States.[91]

James Jay Lee (c. 1967 – September 1, 2010) was an environmental protester who, in 2008, was given six months of supervised probation and fined $500 after he was arrested during a protest outside the Discovery Communications headquarters. Lee had published criticisms of the network in an online manifesto at,[86] among which was a demand for the company to cease the broadcasting of television series displaying or encouraging the birth of "parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions".[92] His manifesto also railed against "immigration pollution and anchor baby filth", leading commentators such as Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center to decry Lee as an "eco-fascist".[93] Lee's opinions were dominated by Malthusian analysis,[94] though he also cited works ranging from Daniel Quinn's novel My Ishmael to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth.[95] The Washington Post credited the Twitter community for initially breaking the story.[96]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]