Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Will the last Discovery employee in Silver Spring please turn out the lights?

I’ve predicted in the past that Discovery Communications will ultimately re-locate away from Silver Spring, and the announcement yesterday that Discovery Health will be replaced by an all-Oprah network (“OWN”) only reinforces my belief.

“In addition to providing her talent, and personal commitment, Winfrey will have full editorial control over the joint venture and will be responsible for OWN’s programming, branding and creative vision,” a press release stated.
Unless Barack Obama is elected our next president and Oprah becomes Secretary of State, I don’t see her moving to the D.C. area anytime soon, so I would imagine that she and her presumably hand-picked staff will be based out of an office elsewhere. There is certainly a precedent for this at Discovery, with TLC having moved its entire staff to Los Angeles last year. The head of Animal Planet, Discovery’s third most widely distributed network after Discovery Channel and TLC, is already based out of New York and there have been layoffs in the Silver Spring office for positions that we re-filled in NYC. Another of their bigger networks, Travel Channel, was sold to Cox Communications as part of a large ownership transaction to prepare for Discovery’s eventual public offering.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav is based out of New York and has no local roots, unlike previous CEO Judith McHale. I don’t think he’d mind if the company upped and joined him. Of course, this is all purely speculation on my part and I hope I’m way off base. It would be a shame if Discovery were to leave Silver Spring, as it is a primary sponsor of basically every event that takes place downtown. Also, having such a well-known company based downtown certainly lends cache to the area. Doug Duncan and others envisioned Silver Spring as a “Burbank on the Potomac” (yes, Silver Spring is not on the Potomac…) with a collection of media firms and the smaller companies that support them. Let’s hope Mr. Zaslav doesn’t have other plans.



8 comments:

Thayer Avenue said...

Maybe she'll do a show on Steaman's nocturnal habits with other women.

If Discovery leaves, can we offer the space to NPR?

Thayer Avenue said...

That's "Steadman," btw. Dammit.

Sligo said...

It's probably a bit big for NPR. NPR has about 700-800 total employees, which I don't think would fill up that building.

Thayer Ave., too said...

Maybe we can get a giant inflatable Oprah head to float over Georgia Avenue, instead of the shark from Shark Week!

Since she puts her face on the cover of O Magazine every month, the giant inflatable Oprah can't be much of a stretch. And since it's inflatable, it can be blown up or deflated to match her current weight.

So, let's brainstorm. What can SS do to entice Discovery to stay? What's driving them to the piecemeal exodus?

silver spring penguin said...

A giant, inflatable Oprah head?!? Isn't her head inflated enough?

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to try and read the tea-leaves, but I think this kind of idle speculation is counter-productive, and dangerous to the perception and reputation of Silver-Spring in a public forum such as this, which could hurt us in the long run.

Sligo said...

Discovery leaving might hurt Silver Spring (or not), but not simply writing about Discovery leaving...

Kira said...

*barack, not barak