By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007
It looks like Silver Spring's Discovery Communications thinks this green thing might just catch on.
In April, the cable programming giant said it would switch its Discovery Home channel to a Planet Green channel early next year.
Last week, the company expanded its eco-portfolio by announcing it will buy TreeHugger.com, a Web site founded in 2004 that provides news and product information for the environmentally acute.
The site claims 1.4 million unique visitors a month and has more than 50 writers around the world blogging about green news and products.
"Bringing TreeHugger.com into the Discovery family gives it the resources to continue doing what it does best: bringing green living to the masses," Bruce Campbell, president of Discovery's digital media, said in a written statement.
TreeHugger is Discovery's first acquisition under chief executive David Zaslav, who began in January and is in the midst of a housecleaning and reorganization that will end up cutting at least 25 percent of the company's workforce and closing the Discovery stores. The company is diverting resources into new-media products and the distribution of high-definition television series, such as the BBC's "Planet Earth."
Discovery would not say how much it paid for TreeHugger, but industry estimates put it around $10 million.
Discovery has found an intense advertiser interest in buying time on the Planet Green channel and will use TreeHugger to sell more green advertising, much in the way the company bought PetFinder.com last year and aligned it with the Animal Planet channel.
It is a sign of the quickly changing ethos on the environment that until only recently, the term "tree-hugger" was considered an insult in many quarters. Now, it is a valuable brand inside a global, mainstream television network.
TreeHugger, based in New York, was founded by designer-entrepreneur Graham Hill. The company and staff will remain largely intact under Discovery's ownership, TreeHugger said on its site.