Investors are excited by a report in Variety that says the matter was discussed at a Discovery board meeting today. Scripps Networks shares are up 15.6% in post-market trading to $87, which would be a new high and give it a market value of about $12.7B. The owner of HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel would be an interesting target for Discovery. CEO David Zaslav told investors yesterday at the USB Global Media and Communications Conference that he considers the U.S. cable market to be mature. This year he spent $1.7B for Scandinavian TV and radio company SBS Nordic and paid $222M for a 20% stake in Eurosport. He also looked at Liberty Global’s Chellomedia, which AMC Networks ultimately bought for $1B. Still, Scripps is one of the few, large independent owners of must-have cable channels — and investors have long wondered when someone would make a bid. Discovery CFO Andrew Warren told his shareholders in October that the company’s “first priority” is to invest “in our core businesses…be it through investing in existing networks and platforms or through exploring acquisition opportunities.” If Discovery owned Scripps it likely would try to persuade cable and satellite companies to pay higher fees for its content — about 69% of Scripps revenues last year came from advertising. Any bid would have to pass muster with the Edward W. Scripps Trust, which controls about 90% of the voting shares and two-thirds of the board.
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