Discovery Communications officially completed its acquisition of SBS Nordic on Tuesday, a deal it originally announced in December. The combined assets in the region will be known as SBS Discovery Media. At Discovery Networks International’s upfront last week, execs were on hand to discuss their motivations for pursuing the acquisition.
 
“As we looked for markets to invest in… SBS is a business that’s been incredibly strong in the markets,” said DNI pres/CEO Mark Hollinger. The rationale was “to grow a bigger business beyond simply a factual business,” he said.
 
Hollinger’s vision includes transforming DNI into a broader media company, refashioning the brand into “more than a factual, pay TV business.” Indeed, the nonfiction portion of the company’s tagline “may need a little updating,” he said. “It does move us into the world of general entertainment.”
 
The Nordic markets were attractive for a number of reasons, according to Hollinger. There was a good currency situation, excellent TV and broadband penetration and a high level of TV consumption—all of which bring both a certain level of safety as well as potential for growth. Additionally, SBS had been on the market twice, which gave Discovery the opportunity to get to know the company quite well prior to purchase. Lastly, Discovery was confident with the management currently in place.
 
SBS’s TV business was the main driver behind the acquisition. However, Hollinger admitted that there are “benefits of having a cross-platform media business” in house. For one, SBS knows radio, which could be in DNI’s future. But “we need to get to know the radio business” first before going that route, he said. Regarding a general entertainment network in its future, Hollinger said SBS is “very helpful for us to see if it makes sense.” But again, it’s “way too early to tell.”
 
Given that both companies had to wait for Danish regulators to approve the transaction before beginning much strategic discussion on plans, DNI is currently in the process of “really telling the story” of the company, Hollinger said. They’re creating a list of things they plan to do together, and there’s something new “added to the list every single day.”

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