Discovery+ Sets Earth Day Programming Lineup

Discovery Guts WarnerMedia Executive Suite Ahead Of Merger

Discovery is cleaning house among the top ranks at WarnerMedia ahead of the close of the two companies’ merger, which is expected to occur on Friday, with six more executives shown the door on Wednesday, Variety has learned. According to a WarnerMedia spokesperson, the newly cut WarnerMedia players include: Jennifer Biry — chief financial officer; Jim Cummings — EVP, chief human resources officer; Tony Goncalves — EVP, chief revenue officer; Christy Haubegger — EVP, communications and chief inclusion officer; Jim Meza — EVP, general counsel, WarnerMedia; and Richard Tom — chief technology officer.

Discovery Dubs EDO ‘Preferred’ Measurement For Upfronts

Following other major network groups’ new data deals for the upcoming TV ad upfront, Discovery said it will be using TV analytics company EDO as a “preferred behavioral measurement partner” to measure ad campaigns for marketers’ business outcomes. EDO will give brands TV commercial airings connected to engagement data via the EDO Ad EnGage product — to be used by Discovery during the upfronts for its advertising clients.

Ann Sarnoff Departing As WarnerMedia Studios And Networks Chief

Ann Sarnoff, who has held a top film and TV studio role at WarnerMedia for nearly three years, is departing the company as it gets set to merge with Discovery. News of her exit spread quickly Tuesday. It will take effect upon the close of the $43 billion merger, which is something of a moving target but getting closer to becoming reality. Regulators will determine the exact timeline of when the transaction can be officially consummated, but indications are that it will happen Friday.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s 2021 Pay Package Soars To $246M Ahead Of WarnerMedia Merger

The company disclosed latest annual compensation details for its top executives, with the calculation for Zaslav getting a huge boost from stock options he received as part of a contract extension.

Discovery Shareholders Approve $43B WarnerMedia Merger

Discovery investors voted in approval of the company’s $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia from AT&T to create Warner Bros. Discovery during a special meeting of stockholders on Friday, marking one of the final formal steps before the transaction can close. The deal, a spinoff of WarnerMedia from AT&T, is expected to be completed early in the second quarter, with insiders estimating between April 11 and 28. The merger has already received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the boards of directors of both AT&T and Discovery.

As WarnerMedia-Discovery Deal Nears Close, Zaslav Shapes Up Executive Team

Discovery shareholders are set to OK the $43 billion merger with WarnerMedia on Friday, the last big step before AT&T completes the spinoff. Ahead of the deal’s expected close next month, a who’s-in/who’s-out parlor game is gaining intensity as CEO David Zaslav finalizes the leadership team.

Discovery Clears $30B Bond To Finance WarnerMedia Deal

Investors piled into Discovery Inc.’s $30 billion U.S. investment-grade corporate bond deal on Wednesday to finance its mashup with AT&T’s WarnerMedia, a bullish sign for markets rattled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

QUARTERLY REPORT

Discovery 4Q Rev Up 10%, Hits 22M Streaming Subs

Discovery said today it ended the fourth quarter with 22 million DTC subscribers, up from 20 million for 3Q. The bulk of subs are from Discovery+. Revenue rose 10% to $3.2 million, ahead of Wall Street forecasts on higher advertising and distribution. Free cash flow, a key metric, increased 78% to $784 million.

AT&T, State Farm Will Test TV Measurement Alternatives In Discovery-Omnicom Pact

AT&T and State Farm are the latest big advertisers to experiment with new ways of figuring out just who is watching TV – and the commercials that support it. The two marketers are among those who are taking part in an alliance between Discovery and Omnicom Media Group. Under the pact, a handful of Omnicom clients, including the telecom and insurance giants, will test new ways of tabulating linear TV audiences using Comscore and VideoAmp, and examine recent viewership data.

NEWS ANALYSIS

CNN Could Face A Reset Once Under Discovery Control

Ever since Jeff Zucker seized the reins at CNN in early 2013, the cable-news network has been one of loudest voices in media circles. Now, even though Discovery didn’t push the executive out, there’s a sense the company will, after it buys CNN along with the rest of WarnerMedia, look to turn down the volume.

Did The Discovery Board Push Jeff Zucker Out?

Forty-eight hours after one of the media business’ more stunning executive exits in recent memory, speculation continues to swirl as to who, if anyone, put the knife in the back of former CNN chief Jeff Zucker, and what will happen now to the cable news network and its soon-to-launch digital offshoot, CNN Plus. On Friday, in separate CNBC appearances, Discovery CEO David Zaslav and AT&T chief executive John Stankey each, somewhat indirectly, addressed those concerns.

At CNN, Personal And Corporate Tensions Collide After Jeff Zucker’s Exit

Inside the media giant, unease has been mounting: over the network’s corporate ownership, the firing of Chris Cuomo and a looming merger with Discovery.

After Zucker’s Exit, CNN Staffers Grow Skeptical Of WarnerMedia, Discovery

TVN TECH

Smooth Sailing For The C-Band Shift

Broadcasters are wending through a C-band repack now operating on an accelerated timeline with completion slated for Dec. 2023. The process is humming along much more smoothly than the RF repack that preceded it. Above, Sinclair Broadcast Group HEVC uplink gear.

Why AT&T May Be Leaning Toward A Spinoff Of Its Discovery Stake

AT&T may be leaning toward a straightforward spinoff of the 71% stake in the new Warner Bros. Discovery in the coming months rather than a complex “split-off,” or exchange offer. A transaction in one of those forms will take place when AT&T merges its WarnerMedia business with Discovery.

Discovery Far And Away Made The Most TV Shows In 2021

Discovery Inc. was by far the most prolific commissioner of TV shows last year and it extended the lead it established in 2020. According to research from Ampere Analysis, Discovery commissioned 556 first-run TV titles in 2021, 153 more than second-place ViacomCBS with 406. Netflix came in third with 403 followed by Disney, the BBC and Comcast with 387, 373, and 353 first-run shows, respectively. Discovery could likely extend its lead again this year if the company closes its merger with WarnerMedia and adds HBO and Turner to its portfolio.

Discovery Buys Stake In OpenAP

Discovery joins Fox, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS as a minority owner in the advanced advertising company as part of a joint venture.

David Zaslav: Hollywood’s Newest Tycoon

As Discovery is poised to conclude a transformational merger with WarnerMedia by the middle of next year, it’s Zaslav’s job to make sure that company, Warner Bros. Discovery, will be well positioned to evolve and thrive amid a torrent of market disruption. Zaslav speaks about the business challenges ahead for the enlarged entity that he will lead as CEO, assuming the $43 billion merger secures regulatory approval.

TVN TECH

Capex To Opex Shift ‘Makes All The Sense In The World’

Broadcasters and their technology vendors are carefully moving from traditional capital expenditure models to software-based operational expenditure models. A Discovery executive says it’s about time as the industry moves toward its own distribution costs being based on volume.

Discovery Revenue Soars in Olympics Quarter – But Not As Much As Expenses

Discovery reported its third-quarter 2021 financials early Wednesday morning. Wall Street had forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 41 cents on $3.14 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate compiled by Yahoo Finance. Discovery reported diluted EPS of 24 cents on $3.15 billion in revenue. That revenue figure was up 23% from the comparable quarter last year, with growth of 12% domestically and 44% internationally. Expenses also soared: +26% in the U.S. and +77% overseas.

Bernstein’s Todd Juenger Returns To Media Coverage with Discovery Upgrade

Discovery Obtains Dutch License For Polish News Station

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — U.S. company Discovery Inc. has been granted a Dutch license that would allow it to keep broadcasting its independent news channel TVN24 into Poland. The announcement Monday comes as Poland’s state broadcasting authority has for a year and a half refused to renew TVN24’s license, which expires Sept. 26. The independent […]

Discovery Vows To Keep Polish Media Company

A Discovery Inc. executive said Friday that the U.S.-owned company will fight hard to keep control of a television network it owns in Poland, a $3 billion investment that is threatened by a new media bill that passed in parliament this week.

Discovery To Charge Poland With Violating Investment Treaty

Poles Protest Bill That Would Silence US-Owned TV Network

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles demonstrated nationwide Tuesday against a bill widely viewed as a effort by the country’s nationalist ruling party to silence an independent, U.S.-owned television broadcaster that is critical of the government. Technically, the bill would prevent non-European owners from having controlling stakes in Polish media companies. In practice, it would push […]

David Zaslav Slams Nielsen Again

Discovery President-CEO David Zaslav ramped up his ire for TV ratings giant Nielsen during a Tuesday conference call tied to Discovery’s second-quarter earnings. The future calls for “better data” than the long-standing measurement currency company offers, Zaslav said. “Unfortunately, Nielsen is a whiff. And it’s just massively disappointing. We have lost money. Everyone has lost money. You’re dealing with a very antiquated delivery system.”

QUARTERLY REPORT

Discovery Tops Wall Street’s 2Q Estimates

Advertising rebounded strongly in the second quarter, enabling Discovery Communications to easily beat Wall Street’s estimates. Total revenue climbed 21% over the prior-year quarter, reaching $3.06 billion, as earnings per share hit $1.01. Analysts had expected revenue of $2.97 billion and earnings of 85 cents. Ad revenue in the U.S. rose 12% and the company noted it completed a record-setting upfront process during the quarter, which ended June 30. Distribution revenue also increased 12%.

Chip And Joanna Gaines Help Build A New TV Network

The couple known for restoring old homes and buildings into styles varying from industrial to farmhouse are making the transition to TV executives with Thursday’s launch of the first steps toward their Magnolia Network. It will feature dozens of hours of new unscripted content and archive shows.

Discovery CEO, With Warner Still To Close, Sees More Media Deals

Discovery Inc. CEO David Zaslav, fresh from his announced acquisition of AT&T Inc.’s film and TV businesses, said media consolidation will only accelerate and he intends to be a catalyst. “The talk of the week is going to be that the industry is going to start consolidating a little bit more,” the 61-year-old CEO said on his arrival Tuesday at the annual Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. “We’re not done yet.”

Beta Survey: Discovery Big With Cord Cutters, Streamers

ViacomCBS, Discovery Face Showdown With Advertisers In Upfront Talks

This year’s upfront ad-sales session is shaping up to be one of the fastest in recent memory. But some TV companies are working to slow things down. At a time when advertisers appear willing to capitulate to significant pricing increases, they are still balking at demands from both Discovery and ViacomCBS, according to three media buying executives and other people familiar with the tone of these annual negotiations for commercial inventory between U.S. media companies and Madison Avenue.

Discovery Chief Zaslav Scores $190M In Stock Options

Discovery gave Chief Executive David Zaslav 14.8 million stock options on Sunday, the day before the company and AT&T announced a plan to merge Discovery with AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit, according to a securities filing. The company valued the option grants at roughly $190 million on Wednesday evening, taking into account the company’s share-price volatility and potential stock appreciation over their eight-year term.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Streaming Wars Are Now Takeover Wars

Discovery’s merger pursuit suggests companies as big as ViacomCBS still aren’t big enough to compete when tech and media giants are on the prowl

Discovery Extends Zaslav’s Contract Through 2027

Discovery announced Tuesday it’s extended the employment contract of president and CEO David Zaslav employment contract through Dec. 31, 2027. His previous contract ran through 2023. The extension was made in connection with the definitive agreement between AT&T and Discovery Inc. to combine WarnerMedia’s entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery to create a new standalone entertainment company. Zaslav will lead the proposed new company. Above, AT&T CEO John Stankey (l) and Zaslav at Monday’s press conference announcing the deal.

An Old-School Media Titan Pushes Aside An Upstart

Jason Kilar was named chief executive of WarnerMedia just last year, but now he is negotiating his departure after being sidelined by David Zaslav, the longtime leader of Discovery.

How David Zaslav Pulled Off A Stealth WarnerMedia Takeover

“We are the best media company in the world” says the CEO poised to lead the content powerhouse. The enlarged Discovery-WarnerMedia will have massive reach across news, sports, unscripted, lifestyle content and some of entertainment’s biggest franchises and tentpole events from the HBO and Warner Bros. imprimaturs.

THE PRICE POINT

The Price Point | WarnerMedia-Discovery Deal Exposes Achilles’ Heel

This week’s announcement of a mega-merger between AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery must still pass muster with consumers who may not be willing to pay a premium fee for much of what they watch.

Makan Delrahim, DOJ Antitrust Chief Who Challenged AT&T-Time Warner Merger, Takes Different View Of WarnerMedia Spinoff

Makan Delrahim, who as the Justice Department’s antitrust chief during Donald Trump’s administration challenged AT&T’s combination with Time Warner, has a different view of the planned spinoff of WarnerMedia. “I wish both companies and Mr. Zaslav and Mr. Stankey the best,” Delrahim said, referring to David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery, and John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T.

AT&T-Discovery Merger Opens Door To New Jeff Zucker Era

Sources say Jeff Zucker may drop his plan to leave CNN at year’s end and instead remain head of the network, as a result of the massive merger of AT&T-Discovery media assets announced Monday morning. Driving the news: Nothing has been decided. But absent this tectonic media shift, Zucker — who’s chairman, WarnerMedia News and Sports, and president of CNN Worldwide — was gone. Now, the door is open for him to stay.