Comcast, Discovery Renew Carriage Deal

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav

The two companies had clashed over Comcast's failed takeover of Time Warner Cable.

Discovery Communications and cable giant Comcast have renewed their carriage deal, despite clashing over the latter's failed deal for Time Warner Cable earlier in the year.

The companies unveiled the new distribution agreement on Monday without providing financial details, but it is understood to be in line with Discovery's other recent distribution agreements. The deal kicks in at the start of 2016. Discovery has been getting high single-digit carriage fee percentage increases in its other carriage renewals.

The companies said they had signed a "long-term, comprehensive renewal of [their] distribution agreement that will deliver Discovery’s 12 U.S. networks to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers across the nation." They added: "The renewal also includes TV Everywhere rights, ensuring Xfinity TV customers have access to their favorite Discovery brands and programs on multiple platforms, both in and out of the home."

"Comcast is a dynamic and innovative company and has been a great partner of Discovery’s for over two decades," said Discovery CEO David Zaslav. "We look forward to continuing our relationship and unlocking the value of Discovery’s content in even greater ways for Xfinity viewers."

"We’re pleased to extend our relationship with Discovery and its family of networks under this long-term renewal agreement," said Neil Smit, president and CEO, Comcast Cable. "This renewal will enable our Xfinity TV customers to experience Discovery’s content in more ways and on more platforms than ever before."

The previous deal had expired mid-year, but the companies continued their negotiations without program blackouts.

Zaslav had said earlier this year that he was "hopeful" that Comcast would "negotiate in good faith," as the carriage deal between the companies was coming up for renewal. "Comcast announced last year that our deal with them is up at the end of June," he said in February. "As we all know, Comcast is the largest cable company, a key platform for any independent programmer, of which Discovery is the largest. With our deal coming up, we are hopeful that Comcast will negotiate in good faith, like all of our other TV distributors have over the last several years."

Zaslav repeatedly expressed concern that Comcast, with the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, would have gained too much leverage over cable networks groups.

In May after Comcast abandoned the deal, Zaslav acknowledged that Discovery had had some concerns about the mega-deal, but added, "that’s all behind us now." He emphasized that he had "great respect" for Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, Smit and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. He called them "very effective" and said they "run a great company." And, Zaslav said, "we have always managed to work together."


Twitter: @georgszalai