Discovery Communications

Not to be confused with Discover (magazine).
Discovery Communications, Inc.
NASDAQ-100 Components (DISCA and DISCK)
S&P 500 Components (DISCA and DISCK)
Industry Mass media
Predecessor Discovery Holding Company
Founded 1985 (1985) as The Discovery Channel
1994 (1994) as Discovery Communications
Founder John S. Hendricks
Headquarters Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Robert Miron
David M. Zaslav
(President and CEO)
Products Broadcasting, cable television, and video streaming
  • Increase US$ 6.4 billion (2015)[1]
  • Increase US$ 6.3 billion (2014)[1]
  • Increase US$ 2.4 billion (2015)[1]
  • Increase US$ 2.5 billion (2015)[1]
  • Increase US$ 1.03 billion (2015)[1]
  • Decrease US$ 1.14 billion (2014)[1]
Number of employees
7,000 (2015)
Divisions List of Divisions
Subsidiaries Media Alliance (20%)[2]
All3media (50%)
Lionsgate (3.37%)[3]
Group Nine (35%)[4]

Discovery Communications, Inc. is an American global mass media and entertainment company based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The company started as a single channel in 1985, The Discovery Channel.

DCI both produces original television programming and acquires content from producers worldwide. This non-fiction programming is offered through DCI's more than 50 network entertainment brands, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Science Channel, Velocity, Eurosport and its web-native Discovery Digital Networks business, led by Seeker and SourceFed.

Despite being publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, the Newhouse family exercise the largest stake in the company, 31%, through privately held Advance Publications,[5][6] followed by John C. Malone with 29%[7][8]

Led by Seeker and SourceFed Studios, Discovery connects with millennial audiences through daily shows, weekly series, web docs and live online events – from DNews and Rituals with Laura Ling to The Philip DeFranco Show and Nuclear Family.[9] Discovery has 375 million monthly online streams of its programming.[10]

Discovery launched Discovery Channel Online, the network's website, on July 4, 1995.[11]

In April 2014, Discovery announced a partnership with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard to launch digital studio New Form.[12]

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.[13]

On November 10, 2015, Malone's other two companies, Liberty Global and Discovery Communications, made a joint investment of $195–400 million in Lionsgate and acquired a 3.4% stake in the company.[14][15][16][17][18]

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 nine 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.[19]

Discovery Communications partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to fund conservation of 1 million acres of land for Tigers in Bhutan and India as well as produce and distribute content to raise awareness through Project C.A.T. (Conservation Acres for Tigers) in October 2016.[20]

Corporate governance and history

NBCUniversal executive David Zaslav was named president and CEO on November 16, 2006.[21]

In addition to Zaslav, current executives include:[22]

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

On Sept 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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34]


DCI operates its businesses in the following groups: Discovery Networks U.S., Discovery Networks International, Discovery Studios Group, Discovery Digital Media, and Discovery Education.[35]

Discovery Networks U.S.

The company started out with just a single channel, Discovery Channel, launched in 1985. In 1991, they acquired Discovery Channel's rival, The Learning Channel.

In the mid-90s, Discovery Communications started developing several new networks. The first of these to launch was Animal Planet, which was launched in cooperation with the BBC in 1996. In October 1996, four digital networks were launched to take advantage of the then-new digital cable space; Discovery Kids, Discovery Travel & Living Network, Discovery Civilization Network and Discovery Science Network.[36] This was followed by the 1998 launches of Discovery Wings Channel and Discovery Health Channel.

They also acquired the Travel Channel in 1997, CBS Eye on People (renamed Discovery People) in 1998 and The Health Network (renamed FitTV) in 2001.

Discovery Networks were early to go into high-definition television with the launch of Discovery HD Theater in 2002. With the launch of high-definition simulcasts of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Science Channel in 2007, the original HD channel changed its name to HD Theater.

The division's channels include:[37]

Discovery Channel 1985 92 millionFlagship network
TLC 1980 91 millionAcquired by Discovery Communications in May 1991, previously known as The Learning Channel.
Animal Planet 1996 90 million
Investigation Discovery 1996 85 millionFormerly Discovery Times, Discovery Civilization
OWN 2011 79 millionJoint venture ownership with Harpo Productions
Science 1996 71 millionFormerly Discovery Science
Discovery Family 1996 65 millionInitially launched as Discovery Kids in 1996, relaunched as The Hub in 2010, renamed Hub Network on 2013 and rebranded as Discovery Family in 2014.[38]
40% of the network is owned by Hasbro.
Velocity 2002 69 millionFormerly Discovery HD Theater and HD Theater
American Heroes Channel 1999 57 millionFormerly Discovery Wings, Military Channel
Destination America 1996 55 millionFormerly Discovery Home and Leisure (1998–2004), Discovery Home (2004–08), and Planet Green (2008–12)
Discovery Life 2011 47 millionMerger of Discovery Health Channel and FitTV, previously known as Discovery Fit & Health
Discovery en Español 19986 millionSpanish-language version of the Discovery Channel
Unavailable in HD
Discovery Familia 20076 million[39]Unavailable in HD

Discovery Networks International

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific
Founded 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,[40] 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, distributing an average of 10 channels in each market.

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.[41]

In June 2015, Discovery Communications won the multiplatform rights across Europe to the Olympic Games from 2018 to 2024.[42] 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 (excluding Russian, and France and the UK for just the 2022 and 2024 games); Discovery sublicensed the free-to-air rights in the UK to the BBC for the 2022 and 2024 games, while gaining the pay-TV rights for the 2018 and 2020 games. Additionally, Discovery has and committed to broadcast 200 hours of the summer games and 100 hours of the winter games on free-to-air TV.[43]

In August 2016, Liberty Global and Discovery 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.[44][45][46]

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.[47]

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.[48]

Discovery Channel 1989 388 million
TLC 325 million
Animal Planet 1997 307 million
Eurosport Acquired in 2014 154 million
Investigation Discovery 121 million
Discovery Kids 1996 97 million
Switchover Media Acquired in 2013[49] 101 million
Discovery Science 1997 93 million
DMAX 2006 81 million Launch: 2006 Germany, 2008 UK & Ireland, 2011 Italy, 2014 Asia
Discovery Home & Health 2000 65 million
Discovery Turbo/Discovery Turbo Xtra 2005 73 million

Discovery Communications also operates Living Channel and Food TV in New Zealand.[37]

Discovery Studios Group

Discovery Studios Group is a full service production, distribution and merchandising group within Discovery Communications.[35]

Discovery Studios Group consists of:

Discovery Digital Networks

Led by Seeker and SourceFed Studios, Discovery connects with millennial audiences through daily shows, weekly series, web docs and live online events – from DNews (hosted by Amy Shira Teitel) and Rituals with Laura Ling to The Philip DeFranco Show and Nuclear Family.[50][51] In December 2015, Discovery Communications signed a deal with VideoBlocks. The deal made available around 30,000 videos owned by them for purchase on the VideoBlocks marketplace.[52]

Discovery Education

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.[53] 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.[54]


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.[55]

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.

Discovery Communications invested in original digital content in May 2012 with the acquisition of Revision3, which has evolved into its current Discovery Digital Networks business.

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.[56][57]

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).[58] On January 21, 2014, Discovery became the majority shareholder in Eurosport, taking a 51% share of the company.[59] In 2015, Discovery closed a transaction to acquire 100% of Eurosport.[60]

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 November 2015, Discovery took a 3.4% interest in Lionsgate with Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav joining Lionsgate's board of directors.[61] "As with all our creative partners, we look forward to telling world-class stories with Jon and the deep management team at Lionsgate, and further strengthening Discovery's content pipeline across our linear and digital platforms around the world," Zaslav said.

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.[62][63][64]

October 2016, Discovery purchased a 35% 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.[65][4]

2010 hostage crisis

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[66] 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.[67]

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.[68][69] The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) confirmed that Lee had an explosive device and was holding three people[70] hostage in the lobby.[68][71] The building was placed on lockdown and most of the 1,500 employees were evacuated.[71] Children from a day care center inside were safely removed to a nearby McDonald's restaurant on Colesville Rd.[68] Lee was shot dead by an MCPD SWAT team at 4:48 p.m. ET after the hostages made a run to escape.[72] The remaining hostages were immediately freed.[73] The incident was described by the FBI as the first instance of a would-be suicide bomber taking hostages in the United States.[74]

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,[69] 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".[75] 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".[76] Lee's opinions were dominated by Malthusian analysis,[77] 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.[78] The Washington Post credited the Twitter community for initially breaking the story.[79]

See also


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  2. "Russian Government Approves Discovery's Joint Venture With National Media Group". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  3. "Discovery Communications Inc. company : Shareholders, managers and business summary | Nasdaq: DISCA | 4-Traders". Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  4. 1 2 Spangler, Todd (13 October 2016). "Discovery Investing $100 Million to Merge Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo in New Digital Venture". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  5. Flamm, Matthew (13 December 2010). "Advance Publications waving around $500M". Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  6. Siklos, Richard. "Discovery to Buy Out Cox, a Major Shareholder -". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  7. Busch, David Lieberman,Anita (10 November 2015). "Lionsgate Strengthens Ties To John Malone: Discovery and Liberty Global Buy Stakes". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. Grover, Ronald (30 June 2016). "After Lions Gate-Starz deal, the next move in Malone chess match could be Discovery merger". Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  9. "Discovery Digital Networks". Archived from the original on 2014-08-16.
  10. Media Globalization and the Discovery Channel Networks By Ole J. Mjos,
  11. Natalie Jarvey. "Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Launch 'New Form' Digital Studio With Discovery". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. "DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS AND LIBERTY G… : Discovery Communications".
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  14. "Lionsgate Strengthens Ties To John Malone: Discovery and Liberty Global Buy Stakes". November 10, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  15. "Lionsgate sells 6.8% stake to John Malone's Liberty Global and Discovery". LA Times. November 10, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  16. Merced, Michael J. (November 10, 2015). "Liberty Global and Discovery Communications Take Stakes in Lions Gate". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  17. Vlessing, Etan (November 10, 2015). "Discovery, Liberty Global To Take Stakes in Lionsgate". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
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  20. Ahrens, Frank (November 17, 2006). "Discovery Appoints New Chief". The Washington Post.
  21. "Leadership".
  22. "Joe Abruzzese".Discovery Communications corporate leadership page
  23. "Adria Alpert Romm".Adria Alpert Romm - Discovery Communications
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  27. "John Honeycutt - CTO Discovery Communications".John Honeycutt
  28. "David C Leavy".
  29. "Jean-Briac (JB) Perrette".Jean-Briac (JB) Perrette
  30. "Andrew Warren - Discovery Communications".Andrew Warren - Discovery Communications
  31. Archived from the original on December 31, 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  33. Inc., Discovery Communications,. "Discovery Communications Announces Special Dividend of Series C Common Stock". Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  34. 1 2 "The Studios Group". Archived from the original on 2014-08-18.
  35. "Discovery goes digital. (Discovery Communications Inc. to launch four new digital cable television networks)". Multichannel News. September 1996.
  36. 1 2
  37. Szalai, Georg (September 25, 2014). "The Hub to Rebrand as Discovery Family as Discovery Takes Control". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
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  67. 1 2 3 "Armed Man With Bomb Takes at Least One Hostage in Discovery Channel Building". Fox. September 1, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
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  73. "New Strategies for Countering Homegrown Violent Extremism: Preventive Community Policing" (PDF). 13 November 2013. p. 2. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
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  75. Mark Potok (September 1, 2010). "Apparent Eco-Terrorist Holding Hostages at TV Building". Hatewatch (blog), Southern Poverty Law Center.
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  78. Paul Farhi (September 1, 2010). "Twitter breaks story on Discovery Channel gunman". The Washington Post.
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