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Discovery, Scripps Networks In Talks to Combine

Deal would bring together popular cable networks including Animal Planet, Food Network and HGTV in same company, the Wall Street Journal reports

Cable network owners Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive are in talks to combine, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A combination between the two would put cable networks including the flagship Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science, Food Network, HGTV, and the Travel Channel under the same roof. Such a company would also have more leverage to negotiate favorable deals with some of the new over-the-top, streaming pay-TV alternatives that have sprung up, like YouTube TV, which currently does not carry any Discovery or Scripps networks. Scripps’ channels are part of other streaming packages, including Dish Network’s Sling TV and Hulu’s new live TV service, while Discovery has largely refrained from participating in internet TV products.

On Discovery’s last earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said that the “skinny bundle” term for some of the streaming services is a misnomer, calling them “overstuffed turkeys.”

“The idea that you have a $40 offering filled with regional sports … an incomplete package, really — and then you have to buy broadband on top of it, so the skinny bundle is $60 or $70,” Zaslav said. “It’s really not a skinny bundle — it’s a bundle.” He said that outside of the U.S., there are several true, cheaper, skinny bundles — and Discovery is part of them. However, in potentially combining with a company that has embraced those offerings to a much greater degree, Zaslav might be changing his tune.

Discovery did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. A representative from Scripps declined to comment.

CNBC also reported Tuesday that Viacom had discussions about acquiring Scripps. Viacom declined to comment.

Discovery’s stock is up more than 9 percent in after-hours trading, while shares of Scripps have risen more than 10 percent.