TLC's Reach to Cross 100 Million Homes Internationally Next Week

Mark Hollinger

“TLC's brand strength and programming diversity has become a powerful complement to the Discovery Channel brand," says Discovery Networks International boss Mark Hollinger as he eyes continued growth abroad.

NEW YORK -- Cable network powerhouse Discovery Communications' Discovery Networks International unit will as of Nov. 2 surpass its year-end target of getting TLC into 100 million households abroad.

TLC launches in Finland and Portugal next month following a rollout in Africa, Denmark and Latin America. TLC will then be available in nearly 170 markets, making it the most widely distributed female-targeted entertainment and lifestyle channel brand in pay TV, the company said.

Overseas, the network provides a mix of worldwide TLC hits, such as Cake Boss and Sister Wives, and original international series, such as My Naked Secret, Don't Tell The Bride and Money on The Menu, produced by DNI¹s in-house production and development unit.

The network will now reach more than 100 million households internationally and 200 million worldwide, said Mark Hollinger, president and CEO, Discovery Networks International. “TLC's brand strength and programming diversity has become a powerful complement to the Discovery Channel brand -- and the strong ratings generated by both TLC programming from the United States and original series created by DNI's production team are already attracting loyal audiences in multiple markets around the world," he added.

TLC will launch in Finland on Nov. 1 and in Portugal a day later. In Latin America, Discovery Travel & Living will become Travel & Living Channel (TLC) as of Nov. 1 and be available to viewers in 38 countries in the region.

Earlier this month, TLC launched in 46 countries across Africa via distribution partner Multichoice, the biggest pay TV operator in sub-Saharan Africa. TLC also launched in Denmark on Oct. 6 to 1 million households.

TLC now ranks as the number one international travel and lifestyle channel in Asia Pacific and the top lifestyle channel in Poland in the key women 25-49 demographic.


The news comes amid DNI's continued growth.

DNI contributes about a third of Discovery Networks' revenue and profitability and has a higher growth rate than the U.S. business, Hollinger told The Hollywood Reporter, reiterating past comments from Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, who he says is "very supportive" of the international business.

The U.K. is DNI's biggest market outside the U.S., but there remain many opportunities, he said.

Hollinger said that Latin America is "still a big growth region for us," with Brazil providing "an enormous growth engine" as pay TV is still underpenetrated there.

Meanwhile, in Asia, india is the big growth region since the country is very open to content and channel deals from outside. Similarly, Eastern Europe also has room for channels and pay tv growth, including in Russia and Poland, Hollinger said.

Discovery Channel is the company's most widely distributed network around the globe, reaching about 210 million homes outside the U.S., followed by Animal Planet with around 160 million, Hollinger said. The figures exclude regional distribution deals in China.

Investigation Discovery has been increasingly successful in the U.S., providing opportunities abroad, according to Hollinger. "ID is an interesting opportunity as is [Hasbro joint venture] The Hub and kids offerings."

Plus, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is likely to have international upside as well.

"There will definitely be opportunities internationally," Hollinger said. "Along with the folks at Harpo, we are focused on the U.S. now. But distributors have asked us about it. We know there's an appetite, but we want to do it the right way."

Discovery Communications' advantage is that its non-fiction content travels well. "And so do good shows with compelling characters," such as Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush, Hollinger said.

How does the continuing debt crisis in Europe affect DNI? "It does have the potential to affect the business," Hollinger said, saying a default by Greece could have a domino effect. "International is about 30 percent advertising-driven. Economic problems presumably would affect the ad business earlier than affiliate fees. Concerns haven't really affected us yet, and they may not" if Germany continues to support its EU neighbors.

But Hollinger is more focused on the opportunities ahead. "In the new year, we will continue rolling out networks abroad and pursuing growth opportunities," he said.

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