Discovery Borrows $500 Million Amid Virus Crisis Impact

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Discovery CEO David Zaslav

The media giant also retracted its full-year 2020 performance outlook.

Discovery on Tuesday pointed to improved TV ratings in global markets as viewers self-isolate amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But the media giant added that the "unknown impact" of the pandemic on its financial results and the Tokyo Olympics postponement had forced it to retract its full-year 2020 performance outlook.

The operator of cable TV channels like TLC and Animal Planet also revealed it recently drew down $500 million from a revolving credit facility to shore up its balance sheet.

"As a result of the global pandemic, television viewing audiences around the globe have increased dramatically. As such, the company has experienced an increase in ratings and delivery across many television viewing markets as many people are self-isolating at home," Discovery said in an SEC filing.

The company warned the 2020 financial outlook for Discovery offered to analysts on Feb. 27 had been superseded by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic causing "unprecedented economic uncertainty."

"As a result of the unknown impact of COVID-19 on the company’s financial results and the uncertainty related to its duration, as well as the impact of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games, the company is withdrawing its fiscal 2020 outlook," it said.

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed until 2021 on Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation that the Games could not go ahead as scheduled because of the pandemic. The Discovery-owned sports network Eurosport had planned coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games in 50 European markets.

Discovery said it will not update its fiscal 2020 outlook at this time. The company added that it continues to pursue a number of cost-saving initiatives aimed to offset some revenue losses from the impact of COVID-19, "including those from production shutdowns and delays."

The media giant also addressed concerns for its liquidity by telling investors it had $1.55 billion in cash on its balance sheet and access to a $2.5 billion revolving credit facility. "On March 12, 2020, the company drew down $500 million under the credit facility to increase its cash position and maximize flexibility in light of the current uncertainty surrounding the impact of COVID-19," Discovery said.

That's ahead of upcoming corporate debt maturities in June of this year of $600 million, and in June 2021 of $640 million.