They owned it. They sold it. And today, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav confirmed reports that Discovery may have a chance to at least run Travel Channel once again.
Speaking at this morning’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia media conference September 16, Zaslav confirmed news that Discovery has an ongoing interest in the Travel Channel.
“We won’t be bidding on the channel. We sold it as a tax efficient deal, we wouldn’t be the best buyer. If somebody bought it, we could represent it. We represent BBC America and we could represent Travel Channel.” By represent, he meant that Discovery might have the ability to run advertising and affiliate sales while another party owns it.
Bloomberg reported September 15, that KKR & Co., THL Partners and Providence Equity Partners may bid for Travel Channel which is seeking bids in the $800 million range. The three private equity companies are reportedly in talks with Discovery Communications about a partnership. The service is currently owned by Cox Communications, which took the channel in return for its 25% holding in Discovery along with cash and other assets. Other bidders include Scripps Networks Interactive, NBC Universal and News Corp.
Kicking off day two of the three-day investor conference which end Thursday, Zaslav also discussed how he wants TLC to capitalize on the huge cultural impact that Jon & Kate Plus 8 has generated for service in the same way that Queer Eye helped put Bravo on the map. He said the service has worked to make sure it has its best shows launched to capture the audience that is following the controversial series and at least now know where TLC is on the dial.
Animal Planet is a rebrand in progress, Zaslav adding he was surprised at how little money Animal Planet was making when he arrived. “A good channel should be making $200 million to $250 million a year,” he said. While he did not say how much the current service was pulling in, he said Animal Planet was a work in progress that will take a few more years to evolve.
“Why can’t ID be Court TV,” he said referring to Discovery’s crime and investigation service, which pulled in former Court TV boss Henry Schleiff in June. Court TV was rebrand TruTV by Time Warner which took the service over and turned it into a reality-meets-documentary channel. “ID is a big swing for us. We’re the fastest growing cable network for the past 15 months,” he said.
Lastly, Zaslav talked about Oprah’s OWN network and said that he felt that “tools for life,” and Oprah’s “live your best life,” mantra are potentially a niche that is underserved. “The good news is we have one of the best brands in media, a number three site online and we have 76 million homes. We need to create really good programming, its not going to be easy. It’s hard to program a whole network. Oprah is great at finding talent.”
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