Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications, Inc.
Type Public
S&P 500 Component
Industry Broadcasting & Cable TV
Predecessor Discovery Holding Company
Founded 1972
Founder(s) John S. Hendricks
Headquarters Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Key people John S. Hendricks
David M. Zaslav
(President and CEO)
Revenue increase US$ 3.773 billion (2010)
Operating income increase US$ 1.360 billion (2010)
Net income increase US$ 669 million (2010)
Total assets increase US$ 11.019 billion (2010)
Total equity increase US$ 6.233 billion (2010)
Employees 4,200 (2010)
Divisions List of Divisions

Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI) (NASDAQDISCA, NASDAQDISCB, NASDAQDISCK) is an American global media and entertainment company. The company started as a single channel in 1985, The Discovery Channel. Today, DCI has global operations offering 28 network entertainment brands on more than 100 channels in more than 180 countries in 39 languages for over 1.5 billion subscribers around the globe.[1] Discovery Communications is based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

DCI both produces original television programming and acquires content from producers worldwide. This non-fiction programming is offered through DCI's 28 network entertainment brands, including Discovery Channel, Military Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Health Channel and a family of digital channels. DCI also distributes BBC America and BBC World News to cable and satellite operators in the United States.


Corporate governance

Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Judith McHale was President and Chief Executive Officer until NBC Universal executive David Zaslav took over the position on November 16, 2006.[2]

In addition to Zaslav, current executives include:[3]

  • Peter Liguori, Chief Operating Officer
  • Joe Abruzzese, President of Advertising Sales
  • Adria Alpert Romm, Senior Executive Vice President of Human Resources
  • Bruce Campbell, President of Digital Media and Corporate Development
  • Bill Goodwyn, President of Domestic Distribution and Enterprises
  • Mark Hollinger, President and CEO of Discovery Networks International
  • Joseph A. LaSala, Jr., Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
  • Brad Singer, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


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

On December 13, 2007, Discovery Holding Company announced a restructuring plan. Under the plan, the Discovery Holding's Ascent Media business would be spun off, and the remaining businesses, Discovery Communications, LLC and Advance/Newhouse Communications, would be combined into a new holding company.[4] The reorganization was completed on September 17, 2008. The new Discovery Communications, Inc. is now a fully public company and trades on the NASDAQ stock market. SEC filings are by the Discovery Holding Company.[5]


DCI operates its businesses in four groups: Discovery Networks U.S., Discovery Networks International, Discovery Commerce, and Discovery Education.

Discovery Networks U.S.

The company started out with just a single channel, Discovery Channel, launched in 1985. In 1991, they acquired their 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.[6] This was followed by the 1998 launches of Discovery Wings Channel and Discovery Health Channel.

They also bought the Travel Channel in 1997, CBS Eye on People (became Discovery People) in 1998 and The Health Network (became 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.

Starting in the middle of the 2000s, Discovery have been reviewing and overhauling most of their "digital" networks.[7] The networks have evolved from being offshoots of the Discovery Channel, into separate entities with their own identities. The "Discovery" moniker has gradually been dropped from channel names. Some networks had kept the globe in their logo to signal their affiliation to Discovery Networks, but this practice has also been gradually discontinued.

Discovery Networks U.S. operates 13 channels.[8] According to SEC filings, the division "also operates web sites related to its channel businesses and various other new media businesses, including a video-on-demand offering distributed by various cable operators."

The division's channels include:


Channel Launch Date US Households[9] HD Simulcast Notes
Discovery Channel 1985 101 million Yes Flagship network
TLC 1980 100 million Yes Acquired by Discovery Communications in May 1991, previously known as The Learning Channel.
Animal Planet 1996 97 million Yes Launched mainly using satellite space acquired from the discontinuation of the WOR EMI Service
OWN 2011 78 million Yes
Joint venture ownership with Harpo Productions
Investigation Discovery 1996 73 million Yes Formerly Discovery Times, Discovery Civilization
Science 1999 68 million Yes Formerly Discovery Science
The Hub 2010 62 million Yes Formerly Discovery Kids
Joint venture with Hasbro, Inc.
Military Channel 1999 57 million No Formerly Discovery Wings
Planet Green 1998 56 million Yes Formerly Discovery Home and Discovery Home and Leisure
Discovery Fit & Health 2011 49 million No Merger of Discovery Health Channel and FitTV
Velocity 2002 36 million N/A Broadcasts in HD 24 hours a day. Formerly Discovery HD Theater and HD Theater
Discovery en Español 1998 7 million[10] No Spanish-language version of the Discovery Channel
Discovery Familia 2007 3 million[10] No
3net 2011 N/A N/A Broadcasts in 3D 24 hours a day. Joint venture with Sony and IMAX.

Discovery Networks International

Discovery Networks International, or Discovery international networks, offers "a portfolio of channels, led by Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, that are distributed in virtually every pay-television market in the world." The division offers over 100 separate feeds in 39 languages with "channel feeds customized according to language needs and advertising sales opportunities."[11]

DCI owns most channels offered by Discovery Networks International, with the exception of:

  • several channels in Japan and Canada, which "operate as joint ventures with strategically important local partners."

"As with the U.S. networks division, the international networks operate web sites and other new media businesses."

On January 10, 2006, the Discovery Networks International announced a joint-venture with Spiegel TV and DCTF to provide global free-to-air television to more than 20 million households in Germany and neighboring countries.[12]

Discovery International Channels include:[13]

The division's channels include:

Channel Launch Date International Networks Households[10] Notes
Discovery Channel 1989 279 million
Animal Planet 1997 242 million
Discovery Travel & Living 2005 180 million
DMAX 2006 44 million Launch: 2006 Germany, 2008 UK
Discovery Science 1997 42 million
Discovery Home & Health 2000 38 million
Discovery Kids 1996 29 million
Liv 2010 22 million
Discovery World 2008 17 million
Discovery Real Time 1994 15 million
Discovery Turbo 2005 15 million
Discovery HD 2005 14 million
Investigation Discovery 13 million
Discovery Knowledge 1999 11 million
Shed 2009 10 million
Quest 2009 9 million
TLC Canada 8 million
Discovery Civilization 1996 5 million
Discovery Historia 2006 1 million

Discovery Commerce

Discovery Commerce operates a catalog and electronic commerce business[16] offering lifestyle, health, science and education-oriented products, as well as products specifically related to programming on Discovery's networks. In addition, the e-commerce site serves as a licensing business that licenses Discovery trademarks and intellectual property to third parties for the purpose of creating and selling retail merchandise. The Discovery shopping website offers products similar to those previously sold in the Discovery Channel retail stores. Recently the Discovery Channel retail stores were closed,[when?] however, the products are still available online.

Discovery Education

Discovery Education is a division which offers "streaming educational video material into schools via the internet." Discovery Education operates unitedstreaming, a "leading educational broadband streaming service in the United States." In April 2006, Discovery Education acquired a premier assessment company, ThinkLink Learning, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Now called Discovery Education Assessment, the program is designed to help students improve on state standardized tests[citation needed].

Discovery Education also sells DVD, VHS, CD-ROM, and Multimedia kits with the same content. Other products include COSMEO, an online homework subscription help site, Discovery Health Connection, Discovery Science Connection and they recently purchased other video streaming companies. They have two free services. One is their website, Discovery School and the other is a teacher community, the Discovery Educator Network, commonly referred to as the DEN[citation needed].

Other interests

Discovery Communcations currently operates (acquired in November 2006), (acquired in August 2007),[17] and (acquired on October 15, 2007 for US$250 million[18]), under their "Discovery Digital Media" business unit. The company later chose to use the name HowStuffWorks as the title of a television series on Discovery Channel. The series, which focuses on commodities,[19] premiered in November 2008 and is similar in style and content to other "how it works" programs like Modern Marvels.[20]

In addition to their in-house production unit Discovery Studios, Discovery also maintains an interest in several Hollywood audio studios through their CSS Studios subsidiary. These include Todd-AO, Soundelux, Sound One, POP Sound, Modern Music, Soundelux Design Music Group and The Hollywood Edge.

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.[21][22]

On April 30, 2009, it was announced that Discovery would be forming a joint-venture with Hasbro to re-launch Discovery Kids as a new children's channel known as The Hub.[23][24]

On November 2, 2009, Discovery joined Jeff Arnold (founder of WebMD), Dr. Mehmet Oz, Harpo Productions, Sony Pictures Television and HSW International as co-founder of Sharecare, Inc., a Q&A platform for users to ask health- and wellness-related questions and receive answers from recognized experts.[25]

Discovery launched a 3DTV channel in conjunction with Sony and IMAX in early 2011, called 3net. [26]

2010 Hostage taking

On September 1, 2010, the DCI headquarters was the site of a hostage taking, a lone gunman identified as James J. Lee took hostages inside of the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, prompting an evacuation of the building. The gunman made his manifesto on his website with several demands. Lee was shot dead by police and the hostages were released safely.[27] James J. Lee had previously been arrested in 2008 while protesting in front of the same site.

See also


  1. ^ Discovery news[dead link]
  2. ^ Ahrens, Frank (November 17, 2006). "Discovery Appoints New Chief". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ "Leadership : Discovery Communications". 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  4. ^ . [dead link]
  5. ^ Information statement: Discovery Holding Company. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  6. ^ "Discovery goes digital. (Discovery Communications Inc. to launch four new digital cable television networks)". Multichannel News. September 1996. [dead link]
  7. ^ Ahrens, Frank (November 27, 2007). "Discovery Hopes for Payoff on Crime Channel". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Networks : Discovery Communications". 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  9. ^ "Investor Presentation May 2011". Subscriber numbers as of December 31, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c "Globe: A Quarterly Newsletter from Discovery Communications". April 2010. 
  11. ^ "Form 10-K: Discovery Holding Company". 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Discovery Networks International : Discovery Communications". 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  14. ^ "Discovery Travel & Living Becomes is Now TLC". The Philippine Star. September 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Discovery HD rebrands to Discovery HD World". CASBAA. April 1, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Discovery Store: Official Online Store for Discovery". Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  17. ^ Discovery Communications, Inc. "Our Brands"
  18. ^ "Discovery Buys" by the Wall Street Journal
  19. ^ - "Precious Commodities". - Discovery Channel
  20. ^ Wasko, Janet and Calderon, Carlos. - "Modern Marvels: Celebrating How It Works". - University of Oregon. - May 7, 2008
  21. ^ Discovery Communications, Inc. v., Inc. - Complaint for Patent Infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, March 17, 2009
  22. ^ Discovery hits Amazon with Kindle patent suit, CNet News, March 17, 2009
  23. ^ Schneider, Michael (April 30, 2009). "Hasbro nabs Discovery Kids stake". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  24. ^ Hasbro and Discovery Communications Announce Joint Venture to Create Television Network Dedicated to High-Quality Children's and Family Entertainment and Educational Content, Discovery Communications, April 30, 2009
  25. ^ "Dr. Mehmet Oz and Internet Entrepreneur, Jeff Arnold, Announce Sharecare Inc.,a Web 3.0 Platform, Organizing and Answering the Questions of Health". Bloomberg. November 2, 2009. Retrieved 2011-4-2. 
  26. ^ Cosgrove To Head Discovery 3D Network - Programming Veteran To Report To JV Board, Comprising Sony, IMAX, Discovery Officials Multichannel News June 8, 2010
  27. ^ Morse, Dan; Vargas, Theresa; Ruane, Michael E. (September 2, 2010). "James J. Lee, environmental militant, slain at Discovery building after taking hostages". The Washington Post. 

External links

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