Brands Brief: Discovery Communications Closes Purchase Merger With Scripps Networks Interactive

Top Stories

  • Discovery Communications closed a nearly $12 billion purchase merger with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., gaining Scripps television channels such as HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel. The new company, called Discovery Inc., could draw more women viewers with the Scripps channels and grow revenue by distributing the Scripps networks overseas. (The Los Angeles Times)
  • Former head of Amazon Prime Greg Greeley is joining Airbnb as its president of Homes beginning March 18. The addition bolsters the leadership team at Airbnb, which this year lost its chief financial officer, Laurence Tosi, and added its first chief operating officer, Belinda Johnson. (Recode)
  • Outdoor retailer Orvis Co. said it will require shoppers to be 21 to buy shotguns, the latest retailer to change its gun policy in the wake of a high school shooting last month in Parkland, Fla. Orvis, which does not sell assault-style rifles like the one used by the Florida shooter, said customers from age 18 to 21 will get an exemption if they have proof of completing a hunter education and safety course. (Bloomberg)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

LeadsCon Las Vegas 7:30 a.m.
CMO Digital Insight Summit 8 a.m.
AdMonsters Publisher Forum 8 a.m.
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The Most Polarizing Brands in America

From the NFL to CNN, here are the brands that divide Democrats and Republicans the most.


Ex-McDonald’s CMO Deborah Wahl Takes Marketing Helm At Cadillac
E.J. Schultz, Advertising Age

Former McDonald’s U.S. marketing chief Deborah Wahl is getting back into the auto business as Cadillac’s global chief marketing officer. She replaces Uwe Ellinghaus, who left the General Motors-owned luxury brand on Dec. 31.

The New York Times has folded its programmatic sales team into its larger ad sales org
Tim Peterson, Digiday

The line between programmatic and other types of advertising has blurred to the point that The New York Times has erased the one between its programmatic and direct sales teams. The New York Times quietly folded its programmatic sales team into its overall sales organization in December as part of a broader, publicly announced reorganization, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Media buyers aren’t seeing ad prices rise after Facebook news-feed changes
Shareen Pathak, Digiday

Just under eight weeks since Facebook’s algorithm change, which many expected would hike ad prices, things are mostly business as usual. That’s according to a group of top media buyers who gathered in New Orleans this week for the Digiday Media Buying Summit.

Media and Entertainment

Discovery completes $12-billion takeover of Scripps Networks’ Food, HGTV and Travel channels
Meg James, The Los Angeles Times

Discovery Communications on Tuesday completed its merger with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. and assumed control of the Scripps television channels HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel. The nearly $12-billion purchase was designed to give Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery more leverage with pay-TV operators such as DirecTV and Charter Communications’ Spectrum.

Penske Media Purchases SheKnows Media
Benjamin Mullin, The Wall Street Journal

Penske Media Corp., the owner of the Hollywood trade publications Variety and Deadline, has acquired SheKnows Media to expand its audience among women with a network of female-focused websites and a popular conference business. The deal encompasses all of the brands owned by SheKnows Media, including, a parenting, health and food website; Stylecaster, a fashion-forward website aimed at trendsetters; and HelloFlo, a website focused on women’s health.

The Weinstein Company sale falls apart again
Brian Stelter, CNN

The Weinstein Company is once again on the verge of bankruptcy. Last week’s tentative $500 million deal to sell most of the assets has been terminated, according to Maria Contreras-Sweet, the lead investor who was trying to get the deal done.

ABC Bets Big on ‘American Idol’ Second Act
Joe Flint, The Wall Street Journal

Two years after Fox declared “American Idol” dead, ABC is betting it can breathe new life into the singing competition. It’s no sure thing.

Nickelodeon Vows 20% Increase In Episodes Of New And Returning Shows
Dade Hayes, Deadline

Nickelodeon welcomed upfront ad buyers to the Palace Theatre, the current Broadway home of its SpongeBob SquarePants musical, to trumpet a message about its programming: More is on the way.

Social Media and Technology

Amazon Has Massive Expansion Plans for Seattle, Let Alone HQ2
Noah Buhayar, Bloomberg Inc. is narrowing the field of candidate cities for its second headquarters, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten about Seattle. The e-commerce giant aims to have almost 14 million square feet (1.3 million square meters) of office space in its hometown, according to a tally in a report by the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed by Amazon.

Amazon Squeezes Instacart in Whole Foods Delivery Push
Olivia Zaleski and Ellen Huet, Bloomberg

For years, customers of the Whole Foods store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco’s Ingleside district were greeted by a familiar sight: professional shoppers from the Instacart Inc. grocery delivery business combing the aisles.

Collateral damage from Facebook’s news-feed changes begins to pile up
Max Willens, Digiday

Facebook’s news-feed changes have already killed LittleThings and Cox Media-owned publisher Rare and are threatening other viral ones. But their knock-on effects are expected to reverberate past the publishers themselves to the companies that supported and enabled Facebook strategies that are ending.

Why Companies and Countries Are Battling for Ascendancy in 5G
Don Clark And Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

Being at the forefront of a new technology often provides a strategic advantage. That helps explain why there is so much scrapping now by companies and countries over a next wave of wireless technology known as 5G.

PR and Marketing

Airbnb has hired a former head of Amazon Prime to run its core business
Theodore Schleifer and Jason Del Rey, Recode

Airbnb’s core Homes business has essentially been run by Brian Chesky, the company’s CEO. Now he has some help.

Orvis Follows Walmart and Dick’s in Raising Age for Gun Sales
Polly Mosendz, Bloomberg

Orvis Co., the 162-year-old retailer known for its outdoorsy catalogs, is following Walmart Inc. and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. in tightening firearms restrictions. The company will now require shoppers to be 21 to buy shotguns, the company announced Tuesday on Twitter.

20-year-old sues Dick’s, Walmart over new gun policies
Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press

A 20-year-old man from Oregon has filed lawsuits against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, alleging the two retailers discriminated against him when they refused to sell him a rifle because of his age. Dick’s and Walmart restricted gun sales to people 21 and older in the wake of the Florida high school massacre.

Something’s Brewing: Coca-Cola Plans Its First Alcoholic Drink
Suryatapa Bhattacharya, The Wall Street Journal

Coca-Cola Co.’s Japan unit plans to introduce a fizzy alcoholic drink in the country, in what an executive described as the first alcoholic product in the company’s history. Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan unit, said in an article posted on the company’s website that it was “going to experiment” with a canned drink that contains alcohol—a product category known as chu-hai in Japan.

Bumble is becoming the LA Clippers’ jersey sponsor
Fitz Tepper, TechCrunch

The latest company to sponsor an NBA team by putting a patch on a jersey is…Bumble, the female-led dating and networking app. The company’s logo will now be appearing on the jersey of the LA Clippers.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Most Americans Already Using Artificial Intelligence Products
RJ Reinhart, Gallup

Nearly nine in 10 Americans (85%) say they currently use at least one of six devices, programs or services that feature elements of artificial intelligence (AI). Use of these products ranges from 84% of U.S. adults using navigation applications to 20% using smart home devices such as self-learning thermostats and lighting.

For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.
Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

I first got news of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., via an alert on my watch. Even though I had turned off news notifications months ago, the biggest news still somehow finds a way to slip through.

The Autumn of the Oscars
Ross Douthat, The New York Times

There are conservatives, including the president of the United States, who take a special kind of glee in the declining ratings for the Academy Awards, which hit an all-time low this weekend under the stewardship of Jimmy Kimmel and in the shadow of hideous revelations about the film industry’s tolerance for rape. You’ll get no glee for me.

The Podcasting Juggernaut Has (Finally) Arrived
Felix Salmon, Wired

I used to think that podcasts were a nimble, cheap, democratic alternative to radio. And maybe, once upon a time, they were.