Dec. 11 - A possible deal between cable TV programmers Discovery and Scripps could give them leverage in carriage negotiations and spark a wave of consolidation. Fred Katayama reports.
Discovery Communications is reportedly considering gobbling up the majority owner of the Food Network, Scripps Networks and that could spark a wave of mergers among TV programmers. Variety.com says Discovery directors discussed the prospect at a board meeting yesterday. A deal would combine Discovery's TV channels popular with males such as Discovery and Animal Planet with Scripp's female-friendly programming such as HGTV and Cooking Channel that could give them leverage in negotiating carriage deals with distributors, which are also seen as ripe for consolidation. Evercore analyst Alan Gould says, "... the sheer scale of these two companies could provide additional leverage." He notes that Discovery's channels command 11 percent of the cable viewing audience; Scripps, 7 percent. The news sent Scripps' stock soaring at the market open. Discovery was slightly lower. Variety says a tie-up between the two could set off buying sprees for other channel owners such as AMC Networks, Starz, Viacom ... and even Discovery.