New Zealand's largest independent commercial broadcaster MediaWorks and the global leader of real-life entertainment Discovery Inc have reached a binding agreement on the sale of MediaWorks' free-to-air TV business.
The transaction is subject to a number of pre-completion approvals and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The MediaWorks TV acquisition will be Discovery's most significant free-to-air investment in the New Zealand market to date. It includes entertainment channels Three and Bravo, streaming service ThreeNow, and multi-platform news and current affairs service Newshub, as well as the further channels Three+1, Bravo+1, The Edge TV and The Breeze TV.
Discovery will continue the existing strong partnership with NBCUniversal for the Bravo channel joint venture.
In the New Zealand market, Discovery currently operates a portfolio of six pay-TV channels including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Living and Discovery Turbo and two free-to-air channels HGTV and Choice TV.
While MediaWorks and Discovery work towards completion of the transaction, Glen Kyne has been appointed General Manager of TV, a role that will continue under Discovery post completion.
Discovery's Australia and New Zealand operations will move under Simon Robinson, President APAC, and, following completion of the sale, Kyne will report to Robinson.
Gareth Codd has been appointed Acting Commercial Director for MediaWorks Group in the interim. Rebecca Kent, GM of Discovery Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands, will continue to oversee the New Zealand pay-TV portfolio and free-to-air channels Choice and HGTV, and the Australia operations.
Following successful completion of the transaction, MediaWorks Group will continue to focus on the growth and success of its radio and out-of-home media businesses to ensure both divisions maintain their market leading position with over 2.4 million weekly listeners and 1700 advertising panels.
Jack Matthews, MediaWorks Chairman, said MediaWorks has made great strides over the past several years.
"I believe Discovery is the ideal new owner to continue that momentum across the TV business.
"The sale will enable MediaWorks to have a greater strategic focus on the long-term future growth of its highly successful and market leading radio and out-of-home business, offering effective advertising solutions to our customers and great news and entertainment to our audiences."
Simon Robinson, Discovery President APAC, said it is an exciting moment for Discovery.
"MediaWorks TV is New Zealand’s leading independent free-to-air commercial broadcaster, with popular shows and great brands.
"Discovery is a global content creator, a major free-to-air broadcaster across several European markets, including the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Nordics, and has expertise in evolving our linear business to direct-to-consumer.
"With a 26-year heritage in the New Zealand market, we are committed to drive MediaWorks TV's future growth and success, delivering increased value to audiences and advertisers across all screens in New Zealand."
Michael Anderson, MediaWorks CEO, said he was very pleased MediaWorks reached a sales agreement with Discovery and to share the news today.
"This is the best possible outcome for the future of MediaWorks TV and its passionate and dedicated people who work tirelessly to make it a unique and special business. Under the ownership of Discovery, Three, Newshub and Bravo will have a long-term home and continue to play a vital role in New Zealand society."
"The ongoing success of our radio and out-of-home business demonstrates that MediaWorks has a very bright future and with this unique and powerful combination, our focus now is to accelerate the opportunities that exist for our clients."
Glen Kyne, General Manager of TV, said he is thrilled to lead the Three and Newshub brands in the market as well as collaborating with NBCUniversal on the Bravo JV, on completion of the sale.
"Our very talented teams continue to focus on bringing New Zealanders trusted, local news and current affairs and quality entertainment content."
Discovery has had a presence in New Zealand since 1994, when it first launched Discovery Channel on Sky. Following the MediaWorks TV acquisition, the portfolio will include six pay-TV channels and eight free-to-air channels, alongside Newshub and streaming service ThreeNow.