Discovery released its results for the fourth quarter Thursday (Feb. 27), reporting higher revenues of US$2.87 billion and gains for its U.S. networks across the fiscal period.
The company’s revenues rose 2% in Q4, up from $2.81 billion in the year-ago period, while total revenues for 2019 increased 6% to $11.14 billion, up from $10.6 billion in 2018.
Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) increased to $0.98 for the quarter; adjusted EPS for 2019 landed at $3.69.
In 2019, Discovery’s HGTV and Food Network launched in more than 30 new countries and territories combined as part of Discovery’s strategy to “grow the global reach of the [former] Scripps Networks.”
Revenues for the U.S. networks segment increased 2% in Q4 to $1.7 billion, up from $1.72 billion in the year ago period, and 12% in 2019 to $7.1 billion, compared to $6.4 billion in 2018.
U.S. advertising and distribution revenues increased 1% and 5%, respectively, which Discovery attributed to “increases in pricing” and monetization of its digital content offerings.
Total portfolio subscribers for December 2019 were 5% lower than December 2018, while subscribers to the fully distributed networks were 3% lower.
International advertising and distribution revenues, meanwhile, climbed 5% and 10%, respectively. Revenues for the segment increased 3% to $1.1 billion in Q4, while revenues for 2019 dipped 3% from $4.15 billion to $4.04 billion.
“2019 was a year of promises made and promises delivered,” David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery said in a statement. “We achieved more than $3 billion of free cash flow and brought leverage down to the low end of our target range of 3-3.5x net debt to Adjusted OIBDA. Our differentiated local content strategy and global scale, coupled with our unique free cash flow conversion profile, provide distinct financial flexibility that allows us to adapt to changing media consumption habits. Our Board’s confidence in our strategic direction is highlighted by the recent authorization to repurchase up to an additional $2 billion of our shares.”
In other Discovery-related news, the American media conglomerate has hired former Hulu executive Lisa Holme (pictured) as group senior vice president of content and commercial strategy for direct-to-consumer.
The newly created role will see Holme tasked with setting the content strategy for Discovery’s direct-to-consumer products in the U.S., including the curation, commissioning and acquisition of content. She will additionally be responsible for managing Discovery’s commercial strategy, with a narrow lens on distribution partners in alignment with the company’s ad sales teams.
Holme will be based out of Discovery’s Los Angeles office and reports directly into Peter Faricy, Discovery’s CEO of global direct-to-consumer.
Prior to joining Discovery, Holme spent nine years at Walt Disney Company- and NBCUniversal-owned streamer Hulu where she held a number of senior leadership positions.
She was most recently VP of content acquisition with responsibility for Hulu’s content strategy and licensing, playing an instrumental role in bringing exclusive programming to Hulu from top studios and networks.
Before moving to Hulu, Holme worked as a production executive at Illumination Entertainment and was a consultant at McKinsey & Company.
“Lisa brings an impressive track record of success in content to Discovery and will be a key leader as we scale our direct-to-consumer businesses,” said Faricy in a statement. “Lisa’s leadership of our DTC content strategy and commercial partnerships will further bolster Discovery’s position as the leader in unscripted entertainment across all platforms.”