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Comcast, Discovery Renew Carriage Agreement

Discovery Communications and Comcast have renewed a carriage agreement, finalizing a contract that had been watched closely by executives in the media industry.

The new deal comes after Discovery’s chief executive, David Zaslav, took issue with the cable giant’s proposed pact to acquire Time Warner Cable earlier in the year, voicing concern in various investor forums. Discovery said it had “critical issues” with the size of a combined Comcast-TW Cable distribution pipeline. Comcast dropped its $45 billion bid to merge with TW Cable in April.

The two companies said in a statement that they signed a “long-term, comprehensive renewal” that will bring Discovery’s 12 U.S. networks to Comcast’s Xfinity cable subscribers.

The renewal also includes rights to transmit the Discovery networks via streaming video to Comcast subscribers who can authenticate their status as customers. Discovery has been granting those rights in various carriage agreements it has signed in the recent past, including those made with Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and some smaller entities like Suddenlink.

The companies’ previous deal expired earlier this year.

Discovery investors had been watching to see when and how a new agreement might be struck. Discovery’s networks, like those owned by others in the industry, have been grappling with ratings choppiness as TV viewers gain access to their favorite programming by other means that are not measured as broadly as traditional TV-watching. The new agreement with Comcast is expected to generate higher fees for Discovery over time, according to a person familiar with the situation, though meaningful increases may not be noticeable until the early part of 2016.

[Updated, 8:02 AM PT]

 

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