2005 Post 200

Discovery Communications Inc.

1 Discovery Pl.

Silver Spring, Md. 20910


Year founded: 1985

Industry: Media

Post 200 Category: Top Private Companies

Revenue: $2.37 Billion

Net Income/Loss: n/a

Earnings per share: n/a

Dividend: n/a

Stockholder equity: n/a

Auditor: n/a

Assets: n/a

Market capitalization: n/a

52-week high: n/a

52-week low: n/a

Founder and chairman : John S. Hendricks

President and CEO: Judith A. McHale

Employees: 5000

Local employees: 2000

Description: Discovery Communications is a collection of cable television networks seen by 1.2 billion viewers in more than 160 countries. Channels include TLC: The Learning Channel, BBC America, the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. The company also operates 120 retail stores and sells educational programming on DVD, VHS and over the Internet.

Developments: In March, years of speculation that Discovery might one day become a public company came to a head. Discovery's largest shareholder, Liberty Media Corp., said it would spin off its stake of about 50 percent in Discovery and its 100 percent stake in Ascent Media Group Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif., post-production firm, into a new publicly traded holding company called Discovery Holdings Co. If Cox Communications Inc., the Atlanta cable operator and Advance/Newhouse Communications Inc. agree to put in the about 25 percent that each of those companies holds, Discovery Communications will effectively become a public company. The news came less than a year after founder John S. Hendricks handed over the chief executive's position to Judith A. McHale, who had been chief operating officer. Hendricks remains chairman and owns a 2.5 percent stake in Discovery. Under McHale, Discovery continued to invest its profits in new ventures, including a separate education division that sells video streamed over the Web to schools. Discovery officials hope eventually to Web-stream video to homes. Discovery also became the lead sponsor for the professional cycling team headed by six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Company executives said sponsoring Armstrong and his team was a way to boost its visibility among its growing international audience. As a domestic programmer, Discovery kept young men in front of the tube last year with "Monster Garage," "Overhaulin'" and "American Chopper," a lineup some company insiders call "tattoo television." Another Discovery franchise, TLC's flagship home renovation show, "Trading Spaces," had to be retooled after its ratings slid by as much as 30 percent from the year before. Discovery gave several advertisers several millions of dollars in make-good advertising, replaced the network's general manager, and gave long-time host Paige Davis her walking papers. TLC's setback apparently did little damage, though, to Discovery's overall financial performance. For the first time in five years, Liberty released Discovery's profit and loss figures in its 2004 annual report. After posting a net loss of $48 million in 2002, Discovery emerged $63 million in the black in 2003, then more than doubled its earnings to $168 million in 2004.

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