Discovery CFO: We hope to ‘over deliver’ on $350M synergies for Scripps deal

(Discovery Communications)

Discovery Communications’ upcoming $14.6 billion merger with Scripps Networks Interactive could have the potential to exceed the synergy targets the companies set when the deal was announced in July.

Discovery Communications CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels told the audience at Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that the deal, which is due to close early next year, has a shot to "over deliver" on the $350 million synergy estimate.

Specifically, Wiedenfels pointed toward revenue synergies and said there’s a “very obvious” international synergy. He said the combined company will have a much larger pool of U.S. content that its international unit will be able to choose from, and he added that Discovery may be able to launch new networks in some markets overseas.

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In the U.S., Wiedenfels said that feedback from advertisers and agencies has been very positive so far, and he said that Discovery is confident it can provide advertisers with very efficient access to the female demographic

Wiedenfels also said that Scripps will be very transformative to Discovery’s OTT and digital strategies. The companies’ combined digital efforts will reach 7 billion video views a month, he said. Wiedenfels said those digital and international growth opportunities show that Discovery is not just doubling down on U.S. networks with its Scripps transaction.

RELATED: Discovery acquiring Scripps for $14.6B

Following the close of the merger, the combined company will produce approximately 8,000 hours of original programming annually and be home to approximately 300,000 hours of library content, according to a news release.

Together, Discovery and Scripps will control about 20% of ad-supported pay-TV audiences in the U.S. and will account for more than a 20% share of women watching primetime pay TV in the U.S.

"We believe that by coming together with Scripps, we will create a stronger, more flexible and more dynamic media company with a global content engine that can be fully optimized and monetized across our combined networks, products and services in every country around the world," said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, in a statement.

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