Discovery Communications has acquired Italian broadcaster Switchover Media, which runs four free-to-air channels and one pay-TV channel in the country.
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will make Discovery the third largest player in the Italian TV landscape (behind RAI and Mediaset) in terms of audience share, the American company said.
“Italy is a leading market for Discovery and key to our growth here over the last two years has been the development of a successful free-to-air TV business strategy as this platform has grown,” said Dee Forbes, Discovery Networks Western Europe president and MD, in a statement.
“The acquisition of Switchover Media adds further breadth and scale to that free-to-air strategy, as well as diversifying our portfolio to include scripted crime and children’s programming that have proven popular with audiences and advertisers.
Prior to the acquisition, Discovery was active in Italy with channel brands including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Real Time, Discovery Travel & Living, Discovery Science, Discovery World and DMAX.
Switchover Media, which was launched in 2009 by Francesco Nespega, consists of children’s channels K2 and Frisbee; male-focused network GXT; scripted crime channel Giallo; and factual network Focus.
Those channels will now be married with the existing Discovery nets, and the combined business will be overseen by Milan-based Marinella Soldi, MD of Discovery Italy and general manager for Southern Europe.
Rome-based Nespega will serve as a consultant and advisor to Discovery, following the acquisition.
“Over the past three years, I had the pleasure and honor of guiding an extraordinary team, which, with dedication and competence, succeeded in leveraging the new opportunities of the digital free-to-air platform,” said Nespega. “I am confident that an international leader in the media segment, such as Discovery, with its contents and resources, will be able to further expand the potential of the channels we created and implemented.”
Carnelutti Studio Legale Associato served as legal advisors to Discovery on the transaction. Tages Capital provided financial consultation and Legance provided legal consultation to Switchover.