Comcast renews carriage agreement with Discovery, ending blackout fears

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Discovery Communications announced a multi-year renewal of their just-expired carriage agreement, ending Wall Street fears that talks between the two companies could degenerate into a blackout.

Under the deal, Comcast said it will have linear and TV Everywhere rights to 12 Discovery networks in the U.S. According to a recent Solutions Research Group study, U.S. consumers list Discovery Channel as the sixth most "essential" network in the multichannel universe, just behind the Big Four broadcast networks and ESPN.

Discovery investors became concerned about a possible impasse last year when company CEO David Zaslav criticized the ultimately scuttled merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). Zaslav said "everyone should be concerned" about the merger, which he added would create a "dominant monopoly power." 

Comcast responded that Discovery had made "extortionate demands" for a carriage renewal agreement in exchange for not opposing the transaction. 

Those remarks were followed by Discovery's decision to shift its popular annual "Shark Week" programming block up to early July, when its last deal with Comcast was set to expire.

Today, however, the posturing gave way to an agreement.

"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."

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

For more:
- read this Comcast press release

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