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Discovery, TEN Form Auto-focused Linear, Direct-to-Consumer Venture

Discovery Communications has formed a joint venture with automotive magazine publisher and content provider TEN: The Enthusiast Network, pairing its Velocity pay TV network with iconic industry brands like Motor Trend to create an offering that will encompass all screens and platforms.

The deal comes just days after Discovery agreed to purchase Scrpps Networks Interactive in a deal valued at $14.6 billion.

The deal appears to be the first step in Discovery’s previously announced plan to offer direct-to-consumer programming. The new venture – to be called TEN: A Discovery Communications Company – will be headed by Discovery Communications’ chief commercial officer Paul Guyardo, who will become chairman and CEO of the venture in addition to his current responsibilities. Also leading the new venture will be Scott Dickey, president of TEN, and Bob Scanlon, who will be appointed president of Velocity and TEN Video Content. Both Dickey and Scanlon will report to Guyardo.

TEN has more than 20 brands across the automotive space in addition to Motor Trend, including Hot Rod, Roadkill and Automobile. The venture will create a top automotive media company in the U.S. and an unrivaled destination for automotive enthusiasts, auto buyers and advertisers looking to reach this high-quality audience on all screens and platforms. Discovery will take a majority controlling interest in the venture.

“Continuing with Discovery’s strategy to reach superfans on all platforms in popular and durable content categories, this joint venture brings together the most trusted media brands in the automotive industry to create a multiplatform business with the reach, talent, and consumer insights to nourish car enthusiasts on all devices,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. “By combining popular brands like Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Velocity, this venture will create a content engine that fuels not only our linear platform but also new direct-to-consumer, social and mobile opportunities with the goal of owning the car vertical across all platforms.”

The new venture also is expected to give advertisers a unified offering with a combined reach of more than 150 million automotive superfans and car buyers, proven expertise in the branded content space, as well as sophisticated audience targeting capabilities.

While TEN’s print businesses will not be contributed to the new venture, a commercial agreement will allow for continued cross-promotion between the print portfolio and the new venture for a true multiplatform, 360-degree advertising offering.

“This venture is about giving advertisers the quintessential way to reach auto enthusiasts, prospective car buyers and an affluent male audience that buys a lot more than cars,” uyardo said in a statement. “It’s also about giving consumers OTT access to world-class automotive content on every screen.”

As part of the venture, Discovery will add Velocity content to TEN’s Motor Trend OnDemand subscription video on demand (SVOD) service. Motor Trend OnDemand will feature thousands of hours of automotive video, including exclusive original series, such as Roadkill, Head2Head, Dirt Everyday and Ignition alongside motorsports and live auto event content. Motor Trend OnDemand also will offer new, original content featuring some of the best-known talent from series across TEN and Velocity, including Wheeler Dealers, Bitchin’ Rides, Barrett-Jackson Live, Fantomworks, Speed is the New Black, Iron Resurrection, The Auto Firm with Alex Vega, and Garage Squad, and will be available across connected devices via IOS/Apple TV, Google Play, Roku, Xbox, Chromecast and Amazon platforms.

“Velocity is the fastest growing network on cable since launching in 2011 and is the #1 television destination for automotive super fans, with a stable of experts and personalities that represent the most respected names in the car world,” Scanlon said in a statement. “By combining Velocity and TEN’s high-quality content, wide-reaching talented hosts and comprehensive production expertise, we are creating a powerhouse of short-, mid- and long-form content for the passionate and growing base of automotive super fans in the U.S. and around the world.” 

In the future, TEN has an option to put its stake in the venture to Discovery at fair market value. Discovery will have an option to acquire 100% of the new venture.

TEN is a portfolio company of GoldenTree Asset Management LP.