Discovery aims to strengthen content offer with Scripps Networks deal

Discovery Communications is buying Scripps Networks Interactive in a $14.6bn (£11.05bn) deal in a bid to strengthen its short-form video offer.

Discovery: agreed to by Scripps Networks Interactive
Discovery: agreed to by Scripps Networks Interactive

The acquisition, which comprises cash and stocks, is expected to close by early 2018 and means Discovery will own the lifestyle channels HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network.

Scripps operates channels including Food Network, Fine Living and Travel Channel in the UK as well as owning 50% of UKTV, alongside the BBC. Scripps bought Virgin Media's share in UKTV in 2011.

Discovery also hopes the deal will fulfil its aim of being a "top short-form provider" by generating a combined 7 billion short-form video streams per month.

The combined company will produce about 8,000 hours of original programming per year, as well as provide about 300,000 hours of library content.

Combined, Discovery and Scripps will have nearly 20% share of ad-supported pay-TV audiences in the US, Discovery said.

CNBC reported last night that the Scripps deal would enable Discovery to boost the company’s leverage with pay-TV operators as more consumers consume video online and switch off from linear television.

In the UK, Discovery threatened to pull its portfolio of 12 channels from Sky earlier this year after claiming it was being underpaid.

David Zaslac, president and chief executive of Discovery Communications, said: "We believe that by coming together with Scripps, we will create a stronger, more flexible and more dynamic media company with a global content engine that can be fully optimised and monetised across our combined networks, products and services in every country around the world."