Discovery News

Discovery Communications Acquires Switchover Media

-- Collective assets will capture third largest television audience share in Italy --

(Milan, Italy) Discovery Communications today announced it has acquired 100% of Switchover Media, an Italian media company that owns and operates four free-to-air television channels and one pay-TV television channel in Italy. Combined with Discovery’s existing networks in the country, the acquisition of Switchover Media makes Discovery the third largest broadcaster in Italy in terms of collective audience share.

“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, President and Managing Director of Discovery Networks Western Europe.  “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

Francesco Nespega, Founder and Managing Partner of Switchover Media said:  “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. 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.”

With the acquisition of Switchover, Discovery now has six free-to-air brands and six pay-TV brands in Italy. The combined business will be overseen by Marinella Soldi, Managing Director Discovery Italy and General Manager Southern Europe, who is based in Milan. Francesco Nespega will cooperate with Discovery for the whole transition phase.

“Discovery and Switchover have both had such tremendous success in introducing new free-to-air channel offerings and growing audiences in Italy in a short period of time, that together we will be third in terms of audience share” said Soldi. “We look forward to bringing the strong and popular channels that Francesco and Switchover have created into the Discovery portfolio, and working with the exceptional creative management team at Switchover to continue this success and further expand our collective reach and audience share in Italy.   We are proud of our diversified strategy across the different delivery platforms, and our commitment to pay for our flagship Discovery brands”

Discovery’s free-to-air channels in Italy include Real Time, a female-targeted entertainment channel launched in 2010, which is now the seventh largest channel in Italy among adult female viewers, and DMAX, which launched at the end of 2011 and has already become the ninth largest channel among male viewers.  Discovery’s pay-TV brands in Italy include the global flagship Discovery Channel, as well as Animal Planet, Discovery Travel & Living, Discovery Science and Discovery World. 

Switchover Media, established in 2009 by Founder and Managing Partner Francesco Nespega, operates two free-to-air channels targeted at adults, including Giallo, a scripted investigation and forensics entertainment channel targeted at women, and, Focus, a male-targeted factual entertainment channel.  It also operates two free-to-air children’s channels, K2 and Frisbee, as well as GXT, a male-targeted pay-TV channel. 

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.

About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world's #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.8 billion cumulative subscribers in 217 countries and territories. Discovery is dedicated to satisfying curiosity through 153 worldwide television networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery, as well as U.S. joint venture networks OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, The Hub and 3net, the first 24-hour 3D network. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools and owns and operates a diversified portfolio of digital media services, including Revision3. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.

About Switchover Media
Switchover Media was founded in July 2009 as a result of a buyout from Disney of selected Jetix assets in Italy by Francesco Nespega and other managers of the Italian subsidiary. In addition to the highly successful free-to-air digital terrestrial kids channels K2 (launched in 2009) and Frisbee (launched in 2010), the company owns and operates a pay channel brand GXT, targeting young males and available exclusively to Sky Italia subscribers.  In 2012, Switchover Media launched two additional free-to-air digital terrestrial channels targeting wider audience groups: GIALLO, a scripted crime-themed network offering a broad mix of legal, investigative, forensic and medical library series which targets female audiences (launched in May 2012) and FOCUS, a factual entertainment channel offering a wide range of documentary products from history to nature, from science to technology targeting male-skewing audiences (launched in July 2012).

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