News

How TV Tuned In More Ad Dollars: Direct Response and Digital Doubts

  • Variety
At a time when TV viewers have more power than ever to skip past commercials, Madison Avenue is acting like it’s the heyday of the Pillsbury Doughboy, Toucan Sam and Mr. Whipple.

TV ads, those 30-second sales pitches that prognosticators like to say are on the way out and about which consumers complain incessantly, are suddenly popular again – at least among the people who buy them. How else to explain why big advertisers, with a dizzying array of new ways to reach customers with social media and digital video before them, keep raising the amount of money they intend to spend on primetime TV?

To be sure, TV ratings continue to erode. But the nation’s five English-language broadcast networks prevailed against disruptive trends brought on by new streaming-video technology and managed to snare a gain of between 5.5% and 7.4% in the volume of advance advertising commitments they secured for
See full article at Variety »

Discovery Q2 Profit Rises on Tax Benefit

  • Variety
Discovery Inc. said second-quarter profit rose significantly as the company enjoyed a one-time $455 million tax benefit due to restructurings at its overseas operations.

The owner of the Discovery, TLC, Food Network and Hgtv cable operations said revenue rose a slight 1% to nearly $2.89 billion as a 5% increase in U.S. revenue was offset by a 3% decrease at its international cable operations as well as the sale of its education business.

Net income in the quarter came to $947 million, or $1.33 a share, compared with $216 million, or 30 cents, in the year-earlier period.

Distribution revenue from U.S. operations rose 5% to $688 million. Advertising revenue increased 6% to a little more than $1.15 billion.

In a prepared statement, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said executives at the company “\are confident in our ability to continue executing on our strategic priorities to drive long-term growth and shareholder value.”
See full article at Variety »

Our Rendezvous With Destiny: Discovery Chief David Zaslav, Rep. Michael McCaul Invite Hollywood to Join Fight for Shark Conservation, Wildlife Protection

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year by humans as fins from up to 70 million sharks are used in shark fin soup. The consumption of this soup has contributed to the inhumane practice of finning, which has decimated shark populations around the world. As a result, we are facing a global crisis with dozens of shark species threatened with extinction. 

When fishermen remove fins and throw a live shark back into the ocean, the animal is unable to swim or breathe, and it suffers a painful death, bringing a tragic end to an ecologically important life....
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter »

Listen: Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch Spots an Opening in the Global Streaming Market

  • Variety
Streaming content is about as competitive as a business gets these days, but don’t tell that to Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch. He’s aggressively moving to establish the Lionsgate-owned premium programmer around the world while the time is right for his company to stake its claim.

“Other than Netflix, we’re probably be the second or third largest pure-play Svod around the world,” said Hirsch on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “We have a three to four year window where we’re out running ahead of everybody.”

Listen to the podcast here:

Hirsch is positioning Starz as an add-on service that subscribers would be willing to sign up for on top of other streaming providers like Netflix or Amazon. But Starz needs to move fast while Disney Plus, for example, is still trying to get its operation off the ground, which may mean the
See full article at Variety »

Chip And Joanna Gaines Offer Teasing Sneak Peek Of New Network’s Vibe

Chip And Joanna Gaines Offer Teasing Sneak Peek Of New Network’s Vibe
Chip and Joanna Gaines have issued a teasing video for their new Magnolia Network, which is expected to debut next summer and replace the existing Diy Network in the Discovery empire.

The video shows the easy-going couple teasing each other about the story possibilities of the new network, whose offerings remain under wraps beyond generic promises of programming including shows focused on design, community, food, garden and home. It will also have the complete set of Fixer Upper shows, the Hgtv home renovation program that brought the Gaines family to national attention before they took a break.

On her Magnolia Market blog, Joanna Gaines talked about the network’s progress, among other topics.

“I have to remind myself that it’s possible nobody ever really knows what they’re doing and how it’s ok that we are hitting the ground running while simultaneously learning about this new venture all at once,
See full article at Deadline »

Listen: How Scopely Turns TV Hits Into Video Game Gold

  • Variety
Listen: How Scopely Turns TV Hits Into Video Game Gold
Star Trek,” “The Walking Dead” and “Wheel of Fortune” are more than just iconic TV brands; they’re the intellectual property powering mobile games on course to reach $100 million each. And they’re all produced by Scopely, a Los Angeles-based video game business led by co-ceo Walter Driver, who has made a specialty of adapting from one medium to another.

“Originally people thought of mobile game licensing as an ancillary revenue stream for traditional IP holders,” Driver said on the latest episode of the Variety podcast Strictly Business. “In the last five years, that thinking has evolved dramatically. And we’re fortunate to work with partners who have been really strategic about how they are thinking about the digital expressions of their brand.”

Listen to the podcast here:

Top-grossing games at the eight-year-old company include “WWE: Champions,” a puzzle-matching role-playing game; “The Walking Dead: Road to Survival,” an RPG
See full article at Variety »

Netflix chief Reed Hastings to deliver RTS keynote

Streaming giant chief executive to make rare UK appearance at Cambridge.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings will deliver the international keynote at September’s Royal Television Society (Rts) Cambridge Convention.

Hastings rarely speaks in the UK but in recent months Netflix has shown a propensity to further involve itself with the sector and chief content officer Ted Sarandos recently said the SVoD giant is looking to “physically” set up here.

Rts chief executive Theresa Wise said Hastings had been a “transformative figure in the global TV industry”.

Other speakers lined up for the biannual event include last month’s Broadcast guest editor Lenny Henry,
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Discovery Puts Squeeze On Unscripted Producers With New Series Financing Mechanism

  • Deadline
With its 2017 acquisition of Scripps Networks, Discovery became the dominant player in the unscripted cable market with 19 networks, with all but Own focused entirely on reality fare.

Using its newly found clout, I hear Discovery has put forward a new model for financing its series, and it has the unscripted producing community up in arms.

Profit margins for cable reality producers have been consistently shrinking over the past decade as basic cable networks grapple with declining linear ratings. With networks also controlling ownership in the vast majority of the cases, reality companies rely almost entirely on license fees — often in the neighborhood of $300,000-$400,000 per episode — to cover production costs and keep about 10% in profit. They get those license fees paid by the network as they go into production on the episodes.

Discovery is changing that. According to sources, in its new contract template implemented across the board by all of its networks,
See full article at Deadline »

Listen: Spielberg’s Amblin Chief on Making ‘Movies in the Middle’

  • Variety
With the sequel “A Dog’s Journey” now in theaters, Amblin Partners continues to find ways to release the kind of films that aren’t typical of what dominates American multiplexes these days.

An follow-up to the 2017 surprise hit “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Journey” is just another example of the cinematic strategy evident at Amblin, the production powerhouse Steven Spielberg relaunched four years ago under the joint oversight of himself and co-ceo Jeff Small.

Listen to the podcast:

On the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Small discusses the challenges of specializing in mid-budget movies “especially when you’re making original product and trying to find a place on the release schedule between ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Aladdin’ or whatever is out there,” he said. “But at the same time we still feel like there’s a place for movies that aren’t those, that there’s a place for high quality,
See full article at Variety »

Listen: Inside ‘Catch-22’ Producer’s Plan to Go Big on Limited TV Series

  • Variety
Between HBO’s “True Detective” and Hulu’s upcoming “Catch-22,” producer Richard Brown has proved his mastery of the limited-series TV format.

On the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” he shares how he steered his career from music and film to TV once he saw there was a way to make closed-ended stories anywhere from six to 10 hours in length, which was a rarity in entertainment not too long ago.

Listen to the podcast:

“There was a moment when I was quite frustrated with making independent movies and trying to find the money, it was always a struggle,” Brown recalled. “And I was interested in what the possibilities of television would be in the new world of streaming.”

He credited his success in limited series in part to the guidance of Steve Golin, the legendary founder of Anonymous Content, who died last month at the age of
See full article at Variety »

Discovery Buys Golf Digest From Condé Nast for $30 Million

  • Variety
Discovery announced the acquisition of Golf Digest from Condé Nast, adding further momentum to the cable programmer’s big multiplatform swing into golf entertainment. It builds on Discovery’s 12-year international rights deal with PGA Tour and an exclusive content deal with golf pro Tiger Woods.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Discovery is paying around $30 million for Golf Digest’s assets after outbidding NBC Sports Group for the property, the New York Post reported. In 2001, Advance Publications, Condé Nast’s parent company, bought Golf Digest and other golf titles from the New York Times Co. in a deal reportedly worth around $400 million.

Discovery said it will weave Golf Digest’s business into the programmer’s GolfTV streaming-video division, which offers exclusive carriage of the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament, in certain territories outside the U.S. The
See full article at Variety »

Discovery Acquires Golf Digest Magazine From Condé Nast

Extending its push into golf, Discovery has acquired Golf Digest from Condé Nast, with plans to integrate the magazine-based brand into its GolfTV streaming service and partnership with Tiger Woods.

The $30 million pickup adds to exclusive carriage in some non-u.S. territories of the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament. Discovery also has exclusive content partnerships with Woods and Francesco Molinari, winner of three PGA Tour events and the reigning Open champion.

While the traditional magazine business remains challenged, Golf Digest has developed a digital and social footprint of some note, with 4.8 million digital uniques, 2.2 million social followers and 60 million video views across platforms.

In addition to the Golf Digest deal, Discovery and the PGA Tour are expanding their 12-year strategic partnership with a new content and sales relationship in the U.S., among other initiatives. The organizations will deepen
See full article at Deadline »

Hollywood’s Highest Paid Executives: Who Made Bank, Who Sank in 2018 (Updating)

  • The Wrap
The U.S. economy had a pretty good 2018, and so did many of Hollywood’s top TV, film and media executives.

Making the most coin — by far — was Discovery chief David Zaslav, who saw his executive compensation soar to $129.4 million. That dwarfed the other guys (and we do mean guys) on this list, especially with disgraced CBS boss Leslie Moonves leaving the field in September.

As part of Moonves’ separation agreement from his former employer, the man accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct had to forfeit $34.5 million. For what it’s worth, Moonves still made more money in his abbreviated 2018 than Dish chairman Charlie Ergen did across 12 months — nearly four times more.

Also Read: Hollywood's Highest Paid Executives: Who Made Bank, Who Sank in 2017 (Updating)

Below is TheWrap‘s list of executive compensation details from 2017 corporate SEC filings. To compare it to past years, click through our previous annual
See full article at The Wrap »

Discovery CEO David Zaslav Shrugs Off Hulu, Netflix Competition In Non-Fiction: “There’s Really Nobody In Our Space”

Discovery chief David Zaslav dismissed the notion that Hulu, Netflix or soon-to-arrive subscription services could develop into threats, arguing that the company’s long-established brands will carry the day.

Hulu put cooking in the foreground of its NewFronts presentation on Wednesday, unveiling a new destination called Hulu Kitchen and new shows with Chrissy Teigen, David Chang and Vox, parent company of Eater.

“There’s really nobody in our space,” Zaslav said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s first-quarter results. “Yes, Hulu’s doing a few food shows and Netflix does some stuff, and a little bit of natural history. But all of the BBC content is coming off Netflix.”

Discovery and the BBC recently struck an expansive, 10-year deal that will see the companies collaborate on a range of initiatives, including a subscription streaming service launching in 2020. Zaslav said the service will be
See full article at Deadline »

Domestic Advertising and Distribution Gains Drive Discovery Q1 Earnings

  • Variety
Discovery Inc. delivered advertising and affiliate revenue growth in the U.S. in the first quarter even as international revenue fell against tough year-over-year comparisons.

Discovery on Thursday reported total revenue of $2.7 billion, in line with Wall Street’s expectations and up 17% from the year-ago quarter. However, adjusted for the impact of Discovery’s Scripps Networks Interactive acquisition last year, Discovery revenue was down 5% for the quarter. Net income reached $384 million, compared to a loss of $8 million in the year-ago quarter.

Adjusted operating income was up 21% on a pro forma basis to $1.2 billion.

Discovery’s solid showing on the domestic front was offset by declines in its international division, which faced tough year-over-year comparisons after Discovery’s Eurosport unit carried the winter Olympics in Q1 2018.

U.S. networks saw advertising and distribution gains of 4% on a pro forma basis, with ad revenue reaching $1 billion and distribution hitting $697 million for the quarter.
See full article at Variety »

Discovery Returns to Q1 Profitability Thanks to Scripps Acquisition

Discovery released its first-quarter 2019 financial results early Thursday morning, when the company reported a beat on earnings estimates and revenue right in line with media analysts’ expectations.

Wall Street had forecast the company’s Q1 earnings per share (Eps) at 79 cents on $2.71 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance consensus estimate. Discovery actually reported adjusted Eps of 85 cents on $2.71 billion in revenue.

Discovery returned to profitability in the quarter ended March 31, 2019, citing the Scripps acquisition for the improvement. Net income was $384 million, free cash flow grew to $498 million.

With those Scripps channels in its portfolio, U.S. revenues rose 49% to $1.8 billion. Things were muddied internationally by a comparison to the Olympics in 2018.

“In the first quarter we delivered a solid start to 2019, as we continue to power people’s passions through our loved brands and our owned global IP in genres that nourish audiences around the world,” said David Zaslav,
See full article at The Wrap »

‘Because They Can’: Inside the Growing Debate on Media CEOs’ Jaw-Dropping Salaries

  • Variety
Since becoming president and CEO of Discovery Inc. 12 years ago, David Zaslav has consistently ranked near the top among highest-paid CEOs in media and entertainment. In 2014 and again last year, he was the top-paid CEO of a public company in the United States.

His compensation package for 2018 was valued at $129,449,005, a jaw-dropping sum that has drawn outrage at a time when rising income inequality is gaining traction as a political issue, and the decisions of corporate entities like Discovery are under increasing scrutiny from investors, regulators and legislators as well as the public at large.

As president and CEO, Zaslav has presided over a 15% rise in the compound annual growth rate of Discovery shares and the expansion of its market cap from $5 billion to nearly $22 billion. For the year to date, Discovery shares are up nearly 30% as it harvests returns from its acquisition last year of Scripps Networks Interactive as
See full article at Variety »

Discovery Veteran Jane Latman Named President Of Hgtv

  • Deadline
Veteran Discovery executive Jane Latman has been named President of Hgtv, effective immediately. She replaces Allison Page, who was recently named president of Discovery’s joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines.

“Jane is a terrific creative executive with a proven ability to build strong formats, long-running hit series and superfan brands that nourish passionate audiences,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications. “With Jane’s promotion, we are pairing a talented leader with one of our top lifestyle brands and I look forward to seeing where she, Kathleen and team take Hgtv next.”

In her new role, the former Investigation Discovery and Travel Channel executive will oversee programming, development, and overall strategy and operations for Hgtv, the No. 1 network for upscale women for 12 consecutive years.

“Jane understands how to grab and hold viewers’ attention, as evidenced by her tremendous track record of success with Investigation Discovery and,
See full article at Deadline »

Jane Latman to Replace Allison Page as Hgtv President

ID and Travel Channel executive Jane Latman will replace Allison Page as president of Hgtv, parent company Discovery, Inc. said on Wednesday.

In the role, Latman will oversee programming, development, and overall strategy and operations for Hgtv. She’ll relocate from Silver Spring, Maryland, to New York later this year.

Meanwhile, Page is leaving Hgtv to run Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new multiplatform TV network, which is a joint venture between Discovery and the GainesMagnolia company. Discovery is rebranding its Diy cable channel for the Gaineses.

Also Read: Diy to Be Rebranded as Chip and Joanna Gaines' New Discovery Network

“Jane is a terrific creative executive with a proven ability to build strong formats, long-running hit series and superfan brands that nourish passionate audiences,” David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery, said. “With Jane’s promotion, we are pairing a talented leader with one of our top lifestyle brands and
See full article at The Wrap »

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ Compensation Jumps 48% to $36.1 Million

  • Variety
Netflix chief Reed Hastings is being handsomely rewarded for calling the shots at the streaming giant.

His compensation package, which is largely in the form of stock options, climbed 48% in 2018 to $36.1 million. That’s up from $24.4 million in the previous year. Hastings’ salary is a relatively modest $700,000, but his stock options are valued at a whooping $35.4 million, according to public filings.

Although Hastings is amply compensated for his work, it pales in comparison to what some media executives earn. Discovery chief David Zaslav enjoyed a compensation package valued at $129.5 million in 2018, while Disney head Bob Iger’s compensation package was valued at $65.6 million.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, the executive behind “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” and other programming also saw his compensation package increase in value. His total haul climbed 32% to $29.6 million. Sarandos’ take-home pay is much higher than Hastings’, topping out at $12 million in salary. He also earned $17.6 million in options,
See full article at Variety »
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