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Author Topic:   Discovery Communications
HollywoodProducer
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posted March 15, 2010 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A Cable Power’s Global Reach
By BRIAN STELTER

Rupert Murdoch’s deputy, Chase Carey, looked out on the cable television landscape last fall and found a rival he wanted to emulate. Discovery Communications, he said, is “a road map of where I’d like to be.”

That is a big endorsement of Discovery, especially considering that it is just one-ninth the size of Mr. Murdoch’s company, the News Corporation. It is a testament to the fact that Discovery, the owner of 13 cable channels in the United States, has become a favorite on Wall Street, and its chief executive, David Zaslav, has become the subject of envy in the television industry.

These days, every media company seems to wish it were a cable TV company, drawing revenue from subscribers and advertisers. Within cable, analysts say Discovery is particularly well positioned because it owns most of its shows and it can cheaply replay those shows in dozens of countries. (Many others rely more heavily on independent producers, limiting their international potential.)

The company’s channels, including the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, are not the most watched on TV, although its hits, like “Deadliest Catch” and the defunct “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” regularly draw millions. They succeed because the shows are unscripted and relatively cheap to create.

Mr. Zaslav “has woken up a sleeping new giant,” said the media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “I think that Discovery has the best secular growth prospects in the industry,” she said, comparing it to the Walt Disney Company 25 years ago, when Michael Eisner first took charge there.

Mr. Zaslav, whose favorite phrase at meetings is “keep it going,” now faces arguably bigger, more weighty challenges with three new channels, one for children with Hasbro, one in 3-D with Sony and Imax, and one with Oprah Winfrey.

At the same time, he is pushing Discovery to further increase market share overseas, where international versions of Discovery and Animal Planet are beamed into 180 countries, it says.

“They produce shows with a mind toward how they can use them around the world,” David C. Joyce, an analyst at Miller Tabak, said. Discovery, with its headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., was founded by John S. Hendricks as one channel in 1985.

Discovery’s stock price doubled in the last year, outperforming most other cable companies (and reaping a $34 million bonus for Mr. Zaslav). International revenue accounted for about $1.2 billion last year of the company’s $3.5 billion in total revenue. That international slice has quadrupled in the three years that Mr. Zaslav has run the company.

In many other countries, cable penetration “is well below the U.S.,” Ms. Reif Cohen said. “As penetration grows, sub fees will grow.”

In New York for a day of staff meetings last month, Mr. Zaslav held a videoconference call with his executives for the Latin American market, who told him that their distribution had increased almost 70 percent in three years.

“We’ve built this great factory,” Mr. Zaslav told the assembled staff. “Now we have four channels working. But the factory isn’t full.”

For months, he has contemplated turning the female-oriented TLC, which is in something of a growth spurt in the United States, into an international brand. “We need one or two more women’s networks around the world,” he said, to complement channels like Discovery, which appeals primarily to men.

He asked his colleagues if TLC was “too American,” and was told that most of the shows work well overseas. Ten days after the meeting, Discovery said it would seek to introduce TLC in 75 countries by next spring, in part by rebranding channels that it already owns. The company has similarly introduced the Science Channel in dozens of countries.

In interviews, Mr. Zaslav often says he is trying to transform Discovery from “a great platform company into a great content company.”

A former lawyer, Mr. Zaslav studied the cable TV business at NBC, where he worked for 18 years and oversaw CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo and other channels. After moving to Discovery, he quickly shook up some of its staid channels with a series of staff and programming changes.

Since then, he has refocused some channels, like TLC, and gutted others. Not every revamp works: after trying to turn Discovery Home into the environmentally themed Planet Green, the company is now easing up on that. It will soon add a prime-time block of programs that are not reliant on green concepts.

Some smaller channels, like FitTV and the Military Channel, have not yet been singled out for change. All of its channels in the United States are profitable on their own, Mr. Zaslav said, but “we still have a lot of work to do.”

Mr. Zaslav’s favorite turnaround story is that of Investigation Discovery, formerly called Discovery Times. The New York Times Company sold its stake in the channel in 2006, and it was repositioned as a crime and forensics brand in 2008.

The channel remodeling will accelerate later this year when, in partnership with Hasbro, Discovery Kids will become a channel called the Hub. In January 2011, Discovery Health will become OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Three months ago, Peter Liguori, the former chairman of Fox Broadcasting, joined Discovery as chief operating officer, in part to oversee these deals.

“It’s always a risk to do a joint venture,” Mr. Joyce of Miller Tabak said, although he thought Discover was “probably creating a lot of value by bringing in Oprah and bringing in Hasbro.”

Under Mr. Zaslav, Discovery established a global programming group to promote the sharing of TV shows and ideas, something that it had failed to do in the past. For instance, Jeremy Wade, now the host of “River Monsters,” which last year gave Animal Planet its highest-rated premiere episode in its history, had been the host of a show for Discovery Europe years ago, unbeknown to the United States programmers.

Sitting down with Mr. Wade last month, Mr. Zaslav wondered if they would run out of great fish for him to catch. The show’s executive producer, Harry Marshall, gave exactly the answer any TV executive hopes to hear. “There are lots of unexplored rivers,” Mr. Marshall said. “It’s a big world out there.”

And, Mr. Zaslav hopes, still plenty of fish.

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DavidChang
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posted April 15, 2010 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Doing that Sarah Palin show will put a damper on their reputation. The bump they get in the ratings may not be worth the PR nightmare.

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DavidChang
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posted April 17, 2010 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On top of having Sarah Palin just doing a show is the amount of money they are paying to have her show. Ridiculous.

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DavidChang
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posted April 25, 2010 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think doing the Sarah Palin could seriously damage this company.

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DavidChang
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posted April 28, 2010 08:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
???

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DavidChang
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posted May 02, 2010 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
bump

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DavidChang
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From:Toluca Lake, California
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posted May 04, 2010 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
History channel is now a top 5 network?

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indiedan
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posted September 01, 2010 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Little is known about the the current hostage situation unfolding at the Silver Spring, Maryland offices of the Discovery Channel. And while the story is still very fluid, some interesting clues have been revealed. First, a lengthy screed has been posted on a website called Save The Planet Protest that opens with “The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY.” A Whois search of the registrant of that domain is listed as James Lee. Update: Alleged Discovery Channel HQ gunman ID’d as James Jay Lee; has history of protesting outside building.

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DavidChang
Director

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From:Toluca Lake, California
Registered: Apr 2000

posted January 09, 2011 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
???

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DavidChang
Director

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From:Toluca Lake, California
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posted March 25, 2011 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery Studios, Discovery Communications' in-house production company, has signed a long-term overall deal with reality producer Daniel Soiseth. His credits include America's Next Top Model, Hell's Kitchen, American Inventor, Big Brother and Amish In the City.

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DavidChang
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From:Toluca Lake, California
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posted April 04, 2011 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery's David Zaslav awarded $42.6 million in compensation in 2010

David Zaslav, chief executive of the Maryland-based Discovery Communications Inc., was awarded a compensation package valued at $42.6 million in 2010 -- more than triple his compensation for the previous year.

That's a lot of TLC.

Discovery owns such channels as Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Planet Green, Discovery Fit and Health as well as 50% of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Zaslav, a former high-level NBCUniversal executive, took the helm at Discovery in January 2007, a year before the company went public. Its shares have increased by nearly 20% this year, closing Monday at $40.48.

Zaslav was paid $2 million in salary. He received stock awards of $20.3 million and options that are currently valued at $15.4 million. The company also provided $4.4 million in non-equity incentives, plus other compensation, including travel and security expenses. Zaslav's total compensation for 2009 was $11.7 million.

The information was contained in a filing Monday to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Discovery's founder and chairman, John S. Hendricks, accepted a package valued at $9.5 million for 2010 -- a substantial reduction from his $17.3-million package, boosted by stock options, during the previous year.

Mark G. Hollinger, chief executive of Discovery Networks International, received $5.6 million in 2010, and Peter Liguori, the company's chief operating officer, collected $4.9 million in salary, bonus, stock and options. Chief Financial Officer Bradley E. Singer's compensation was valued at $4 million.

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DavidChang
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posted March 21, 2012 04:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Layoffs and restructuring at Oprah Winfrey's beleaguered OWN channel (lat)
Weak ratings and a poor financial performance have led to layoffs and yet another executive restructuring at the Oprah Winfrey Network, the cable channel co-owned by Winfrey and Discovery Communications. OWN, which last week finally canceled its high-profile Rosie O'Donnell talk show, said it was laying off 30 staffers and bringing in executives from Discovery Communications to oversee key operations. The move comes as OWN continues to struggle to find its voice. Launched in January 2011, OWN has already cost Discovery more than $300 million. The channel's performance has been so weak that there has even been speculation, denied by insiders at the network's parent companies, that if the situation doesn't improve soon the plug could be pulled. "We're as committed now as we've ever been and are bullish about the long-term value we are building," Discovery Senior Executive Vice President David Leavy said Monday. “It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” said OWN Chief Executive Winfrey in a statement. "The economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place," she said, adding, "to wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.” Winfrey was at OWN's Los Angeles headquarters Monday to address the staff about the changes. As part of the restructuring, Discovery Communications will have more say in the business operations. Initially, Discovery had something of an arms-length policy when it came to OWN. However, as the losses have piled up and the executive suite of OWN started to resemble a revolving door, Discovery decided it needed to step up and become more involved in the channel's operations. "The cost structure was not sustainable; we had to right-size that," said Leavy.

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DavidChang
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posted March 30, 2012 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery chief Zaslav scores in 2011 according to SEC filing (deadline)
It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M in option awards, $4.8M in non-equity incentives, and $430,379 in other compensation. The last category includes personal use of aircraft, car service and security services. Zaslav’s pay indicates that the Discovery board considers him a rock star: He made nearly nine times more than the average for the other four top execs — up from 7.1 times their average compensation last year. Corporate governance experts consider it a red flag when the top earner makes more than three times the average for his or her closest associates. The company filing notes that former COO Peter Liguori — who left the company at the end of the year — received a $250,000 bonus for his brief tenure as CEO of the company’s struggling OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. That amount was guaranteed; he was not granted the additional $250,000 that was left to the discretion of the Compensation Committee. But he doesn’t have to wait for the Barney’s warehouse sale before he buys more business suits: His severance package includes a $1.1M base salary, $1.3M bonus, and $212,837 in stock options.

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HollywoodProducer
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posted April 02, 2012 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oprah Winfrey said Monday that her cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, has been a much tougher slog than she expected.

"Had I known it was this difficult, I might have done something else," Winfrey said during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" with Charlie Rose and Gayle King, who is Winfrey's best friend.

"I didn't think it would be easy, but if I knew then what I know now, I might have made some different choices," Winfrey said. "If I were writing a book about it, I could call it '101 Mistakes.' "

Rose asked Winfrey to name five miscalculations. The top mistake, Winfrey said, was that OWN launched in Los Angeles in January 2011, well before the network was ready. At the time, she was consumed with wrapping up her hugely successful syndicated talk show in Chicago, which taped its finale last May. Winfrey said she advocated for a small launch of the channel, without much press or promotion, but soon the publicity machine had kicked in and the expectations for the channel soared to lofty levels.

Discovery Communications Inc., which owns 50% of OWN, has spent more than $312 million to get the struggling channel off the ground. The channel has been averaging fewer than 300,000 people in prime-time, according to ratings agency Nielsen.

"It was like having the wedding before you were ready, and walking down the aisle saying, oooh, should we really be doing this?" Winfrey said.

"But the invitations were out," chimed in King, who ditched her daytime talk show on OWN last year for the much bigger platform of CBS News. (Winfrey later in the interview said she was thrilled that King, who has been her friend for more than 25 years, was given the opportunity at CBS).

Winfrey said it was "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels who told her that she "had no idea" what she was getting into, and that building a new channel would be difficult. Some people would be rooting for her to fail.

For the first time in many years, the press surrounding Winfrey has been decidedly negative. Co-host Rose said that was a departure from previous press coverage: "You've been so loved, such an icon, you could do no wrong."

There have been days, Winfrey conceded, that she was ready to throw in the towel. She said she would have been happy to sit under a tree with her beloved dogs and read a book. Those days were more frequent, she said, particularly in the last week as the bad press mounted. But Winfrey said that she is more encouraged by OWN's prospects and direction than she ever has been before.

Television's former daytime queen was in New York to tape a live episode of "Oprah"s Lifeclass: The Tour" at Radio City Music Hall and, later in the week, for advertiser presentations. Unlike four years ago, Winfrey said doesn't expect to campaign heavily for the reelection of President Obama. Instead, she will be busy "trying to fix a network."

"I'm a very driven person," Winfrey said. "I believe that I am here to fulfill a calling. That, because I am a female, who is African American, who has been so blessed in the world, there is never going to be a time to quit. I will die in the midst of doing what I love to do — that is, using my voice and using my life to try to inspire other people to live the best in theirs."

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DavidChang
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posted April 04, 2012 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery Communications has decided it's not easy being green.

The cable programming giant announced it is pulling the plug on Planet Green, its nearly 4-year-old low-rated cable network devoted to "green lifestyle programming." On May 28, which is Memorial Day, Planet Green will become Destination America, a channel that Discovery said will "celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation."

Most of the shows on Planet Green -- including "World's Greenest Homes" and "Living with Ed," a reality show starring actor and environmental activist Ed Begely Jr. -- were aimed at "motivating individuals to take action when it comes to improving the environmental status of our planet," according to the network's website.

But Destination America -- which will launch in about 60 million homes -- is clearly going in a different direction. One of its new shows, "United States of Food," is described as a "celebration of America’s obsession with meat." Another, "Fast Food Mania," promises to "celebrate our favorite fast food treats and search for the most unusual fast food items and outposts."

“Discovery Communications continuously strives to break new ground with its unrivaled approach to storytelling that ignites viewers’ curiosity,” said David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery Communications.

Other shows on Destination America include "Cheating Las Vegas," about "elaborate scams of modern casino gaming," and "Super-Duper Thrill Rides," which will tour the nation's amusement parks.

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