Discovery Communications Earnings Call Cheat Sheet: Upfront Ad Sales, Amortization Rates

On Thursday, Discovery Communications Inc (NASDAQ:DISCA) reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Upfront Ad Sales

Michael Nathanson – Nomura: Brad, congratulations and all the best to you. So, let me ask you guys on advertising because I think it’s fair to say that many of your peers so far have come in below we thought on advertising domestically and it looks like (sauce & scatter) was kind of one of the reasons why. So, one question would be, did you sell more this upfront versus last upfront and was that one of the reasons why this quarter was better?

David M. Zaslav – President and CEO: We did sell more in the upfront than we have in the past, but we also moved early on scatter and we found the scatter really the pricing was quite strong and throughout the quarter remained strong, but a lot of the momentum, the fact we were able to Joe and his team were able to get 17% growth is our networks were strong, Discovery is really back with a lot of momentum and we hit all demographics with Discovery Male, TLC Female, a lot of our other networks working. We also built some of our new networks this year not just ID but Fit & Health and Velocity and Science kind of all having a little bit of a stronger profile on the advertising side. Not only do we hit all demos, but ID is enormously strong in daytime. So, we tend to really lean on prime time, but ID provided a great vehicle for us as a top network in American in daytime. So, it’s all of that and together with Joe Abruzzese, I think, being the master of managing inventory and motivating a great sales teams and so it was a great result for the year and a very strong performance in maximizing our rating points in the quarter.

Michael Nathanson – Nomura: Communications, just two follow-ups; one was how much ID contributors percentage will grow. In the past, it’s been recorded a 30% or so of growth in the quarter, is that fair assessment this quarter?

David M. Zaslav – President and CEO: We don’t speak to specifics, but with ID now in 80 million homes and having it be a top 10 network it’s going to take a while for us to get the CPM for we think they should be, but we have a team really focused on that and it is becoming a bigger contributor and we expect over the next two to three years as we get paid commensurate with the value that we are providing that it will be an even bigger growth provider.

Brad Singer – SEVP and CFO: Michael, to put it numerically, about two-thirds of the growth was price and volume, so the market – and about one-third was (indiscernible).

Michael Nathanson – Nomura: Then last, what about the NBA strikes, I know you guys don’t have any NBA so was that producing money that may have been coming from NBA targeted dollars coming to you guys?

David M. Zaslav – President and CEO: It’s hard to tag any of that as being a benefit. I am sure generically it was helpful that that male demo was available, but we can’t draw any direct lines as to whether that was helpful or how much.

Amortization Rates

Spencer Wang – Credit Suisse: I was wondering if, Brad, you could give us some more color on what’s prompting the change in the amortization rates. Are you guys effectively shortening the (indiscernible) life for certain programmings or any color there will be helpful. Then what are you assuming in your revenue guidance for 2012 with respect to FX and any sort of incremental digital deals?

Brad Singer – SEVP and CFO: With regards to amortization rate every year we do once a year study of our airing patterns to see what’s the appropriate rate to amortize and so for the big fully distributed networks that generally hasn’t changed, we do 50% the first year, 25% the second, 15% in the third and 10% in the fourth. The younger networks because they are younger to generally have some change. So, we had about $10 million adjustment to several of the younger networks and it reflects the full year amortization that you taken that one quarter you do the study and that’s what happens. So, usually it’s been de minimis, this year it happen to be about $10 million. With regard to FX it has almost no impact over the course of 2012 it will have more of an impact in the first half of the year and less in the second half as kind of it will run through based on current rates. With regard to digital distribution deals our guidance only incorporates what we have signed today and announced, it doesn’t have anything that we are working on or have not announced yet.

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