Cabler to bow health, travel channels o'seas
MIAMI — Discovery Networks Intl. will invest $100 million to launch its Discovery Health and Discovery Travel & Adventure channels in global markets during the third quarter.The Bethesda, Md.-based company will introduce Discovery Health as a 24-hour channel for Europe and for Latin America. The Discovery Travel & Adventure channel, already on the air in several Euro markets, will be added to the Latin American lineup. Branded-programming blocks from the webs will air on the flagship Discovery Channel in India and in Asia. Discovery is focused on expanding its global offerings and services, said DNI prexy Dawn McCall. Last year, Discovery generated revenues of $1.4 billion. This year, Discovery started to roll out localized Internet sites. Although the online initiative is handled by a different division, the effort is coordinated closely with the networks operations, McCall said. Discovery Health first bowed in the U.S. in August 1999. It will launch in the U.K. in July, to be followed by Latin America during the course of the third quarter. Currently in discussions for carriage deals in the U.K., Discovery is also looking at opportunities in other Euro territories. Latam operations cover Spain and Portugal, for which an early 2001 launch is contemplated. Discovery Travel & Adventure bowed in the U.K. on satcaster Sky in October 1998. Web is now available in the U.K., Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, Croatia and Kazakhstan. Discovery Network Europe managing director Joyce Taylor estimated that the subscriber count will reach 8 million by year’s end. The launch of digital platforms across Europe has been a huge driver of sub growth and creates opportunities for new channels, Taylor said. In Latin America, where the four existing Discovery webs have a total sub base of 13 million homes, senior VP and general manager Henry Martinez estimated that the two new nets will each reach 3 million-3.6 million households within the first year of operation.