New York Times and Discovery End Partnership

Gray Lady Sells Stake Back to Network to Build Its Own Video Offering

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- New York Times Co. President-CEO Janet Robinson said the publisher would bow out of its joint venture with the Discovery Times Channel in order to focus on short-form video content streamed on the Times' Web sites.
The cable network, which will keep its name, is buying the Times' share, valued at $80 million to $135 million.
The cable network, which will keep its name, is buying the Times' share, valued at $80 million to $135 million.

"There is a strong demand for video streaming on our Web sites, and advertisers are really coveting that," she said. The New York Times Co. also reported first-quarter results yesterday.

Grew to 39 million homes
The two media companies formed the joint venture in 2002 and the channel launched a year later in 14 million homes. It has since grown to more than 39 million U.S. homes. For Discovery, attaching the New York Times name to the network gave it instant branding and a higher profile in the journalistic community.

Discovery revealed just how hard it is to get funding for long-form investigative documentary programming, ironically bringing New York Times reporter Lowell Bergman to a lunch held at the Association of National Advertisers' TV Ad Forum last month. Mr. Bergman pleaded with advertisers to support long-form documentaries -- the type offered on the Discovery Times Channel. Mr. Bergman has worked on documentaries.

As part of the contract, Discovery has to buy out the New York Times' share of the channel, which has been valued at $80 million to $135 million.

Keeping name
"Discovery Communications has enjoyed an extremely successful partnership with The New York Times Company over the last four years in building the Discovery Times Channel," the cable programmer said in a statement. The network went on to say that it would "retain its name and current programming strategy, and Discovery looks forward to continuing a strong relationship with The New York Times Company and its top journalists."

"Off to War," a 10-part Discovery Times documentary that followed an Arkansas National Guard troop sent off to Iraq, is set to receive an Overseas Press Club award next week. "Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam," based on the book from "Black Hawk Down" author Mark Bowden, will premiere in June.
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