Discovery says OWN ‘beginning to turn a profit’

OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is “starting to pay down the investment Discovery has made in the venture” having turned cash flow-positive, according to Discovery Communication’s CEO.

Discovery has pumped in millions of dollars into the cable channel – which also runs a programming block on TLC in the UK – due to a number of teething problems in terms of staff turnaround and ratings but David Zaslav yesterday revealed it was finally paying its way.

“I’m proud to report that when combined with the long-term affiliate fees that Discovery has negotiated, OWN is now cash-flow positive,” he said. “This was ahead of the originally anticipated second half of the year goal of cash flow breakeven.

“I want to congratulate Oprah and the entire team at OWN for this significant milestone – and we remain very bullish on its long term trajectory and our ability to drive continued asset appreciation in the future.”

OWN’s ratings have been growing, which has allowed it to increase subscription fees from pay TV platforms, he added.

However, Discovery doesn’t break down performance figures for the channel due to it being a joint venture with talkshow guru Winfrey.

The news came in an investors’ call for Discovery’s second quarter financial results, which came in under analysts’ marks despite year-on-year growth.

Revenue for the three months to June 30, 2013, of US$1.47 billion was 30% up on the same period in 2012, with operating income before depreciation and amortisation up 23% to US$668 million.

Revenue at its flagship US networks came in at US$793 million, up from US$700 million, while operating profit was up 11% to US$472 million.

International nets saw huge growth in revenue – up 61% to US$652 million – and profit – up 51% to US$265 million.

Discovery attributed this to ad revenue up 119% and distribution revenue up 29%. Subscribers numbers in Latin America and consolidating Discovery Japan also helped the numbers.