Channels Like Animal Planet and TLC Finally Coming to Hulu
(Bloomberg) -- Discovery Inc. rallied the most in almost four years after winning a deal to provide Hulu’s live video service with programming, an online breakthrough for the owner of the Animal Planet and HGTV cable channels.
Shares of the media company rose as much as 8.6 percent to $30.95 in New York, their biggest intraday advance since February 2015. The stock was up 27 percent this year through Tuesday.
As more consumers drop their expensive cable packages, media companies like Discovery have pushed to get their networks included in the growing number of online replacements, like Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Hulu’s service. These new online-TV packages are recapturing many -- but not all -- of the lost subscribers and have helped stem some of the bleeding for channel owners who depend on subscriber fees for profits.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Silver Spring, Maryland-based Discovery will also provide old episodes of shows for Hulu’s on-demand library. Discovery owns a number of cable networks, including its namesake Discovery Channel, TLC and OWN. They air popular reality shows like “Property Brothers,” “Say Yes to the Dress” and “MythBusters.”
Last year, Discovery bought Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. for $11.9 billion, becoming a giant player in unscripted TV programming. Scripps’s main channels -- HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel -- are already on Hulu’s live TV service.
On an earnings call in August, Discovery’s chief financial officer, Gunnar Wiedenfels, said subscribers to the company’s portfolio of channels are declining by 5 percent a year, with its most popular networks down 3 percent.
That’s why the company needs to infiltrate more of the upstart TV services, known as skinny bundles. Discovery channels were recently included in AT&T Watch, a package that launched in June with more than 30 channels of live TV for $15 a month.
“We like the skinny bundles,” Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said on the call. “We’re focused on getting on every one of them.”
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