Confirming a move it says strengthens its position as the world’s leading pay-TV programmer by expanding into sports programming, Discovery Communications has announced the completion of its acquisition of a controlling interest in Eurosport International, Europe’s leading sports entertainment group. Discovery increased its interest in Eurosport to 51 per cent from 20 per cent as part of a larger strategic partnership with TF1 Group that began in December 2012.
Discovery was one of the first US media companies to launch channels in Europe in 1989 and has invested steadily and significantly in its international business for 25 years. With the addition of Eurosport’s six pay-TV brands, Eurosport, Eurosport HD, Eurosport 2, Eurosport 2 HD, Eurosport Asia-Pacific and Eurosportnews, Discovery Communications now operates more than 210 worldwide TV networks reaching 2.7 billion cumulative subscribers.
“Today is an exciting day for Discovery Communications and our leadership as the number one pay-TV programmer in the world. Eurosport is a perfect strategic fit for growing market share, strengthening relationships with advertisers and affiliates, and bringing ‘must have’ content to passionate viewers across the globe,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. “By combining Eurosport’s popular sports programming with Discovery’s global brands and local expertise, we will continue to capitalize on the international growth of pay-TV and create long-term value for our shareholders.”
Discovery intends to make long-term strategic decisions and targeted investments to strengthen and expand Eurosport’s sports programming and services to nourish and maximize Eurosport’s audience and reach. As part of that effort, Discovery will be working with Eurosport management and employees on a long-term business plan that fully optimises Eurosport’s channels as part of Discovery’s suite of global networks.
“Together, Discovery and Eurosport are undoubtedly stronger. Discovery has built the most successful international pay-TV business in all of media and we are excited to utilise that expertise to further strengthen Eurosport’s programming and platforms,” said Jean-Briac Perrette, President of Discovery Networks International. “We would like to thank TF1 for its leadership of Eurosport International and for giving us such a wonderful opportunity to expand our partnership.”
“Eurosport is perfectly poised for its next phase of growth and I can think of no better partner than Discovery to make this vision a reality,” said Nonce Paolini, Chairman and CEO of TF1. “Discovery has a proven track record of a long-term investment strategy that creates value for advertisers, affiliates and audiences around the world.”
The closing price for Eurosport International was based on an average enterprise valuation for the Eurosport Group of €902 million (approximately $1.2 billion), partly corresponding to the initial valuation and partly to a higher valuation linked to the control of the company. From this group valuation, the value of Eurosport France (€85 million, approximately $115 million) has been deducted.
TF1 expects to retain its 80 per cent interest in Eurosport France until at least January 1, 2015. Furthermore, the closing of the acquisition does not impact the other two elements of the original deal – the 20 per cent interest Discovery acquired in TV Breizh, Histoire, Ushuaïa TV and Stylía channels, and a production alliance with TF1 Group. TF1 will retain the ability to exercise a put option over the remaining 49 per cent in Eurosport International, which would potentially increase Discovery’s ownership to 100 per cent.