Discovery buys HowStuffWorks.com

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NEW YORK -- Discovery Communications has acquired reference site HowStuffWorks.com, the company said Monday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but published reports said Discovery paid $250 million for the Convex Group-owned site, which averages 3.8 million unique visitors per month, according to ComScore. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

With the acquisition, Discovery clips will be integrated into HSW ultimately amounting to a “video wikipedia,” said the destination’s CEO Jeff Arnold, who also founded Convex and WebMD. Discovery also plans to start a “How Stuff Works” program airing daily on the Discovery Channel beginning next summer.

“One of my early challenges at Discovery was determining how best to build a robust digital media portfolio,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav, who arrived at the company in January from NBC Universal. “Discovery now has a solid platform for strengthening our digital businesses.”

Zaslav also called the deal a “bulls-eye” for Discovery, saying that the two companies’ share a focus in “knowledge and curiosity.”

This purchase reflects a growing push into digital for Discovery, which has been admittedly lacking in that sector. In August, the company acquired eco-friendly site Treehugger for $10 million and last November Discovery bought Petfinder.com.

As part of the deal, Discovery will also acquire ConsumerGuide.com, digital map company GeoNova Group and mental health education company QuickCompliance. Discovery will take a minority equity position in HSW International, as well, a publicly traded company that has the local language rights to the site in Brazil and China.

In addition to its editorial content, HSW also has the exclusive digital rights to over 30,000 books, 800,000 images and 180,000 maps.

In April, HSW raised $75 million in funding from Capital Research & Management, Chilton Investment Co. and others. Carl Ichan also invested in the site in 2005.

HSW is based in Atlanta and has 160 employees. Discovery said it is not planning to “significantly change the team or its operations.”
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