Feb. 27, 2020, 7:58 a.m. EST

Discovery revenue up slightly amid streaming push

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By Benjamin Mullin

Revenue rose at Discovery Inc. in the fourth quarter as the TV programmer's licensing and advertising segments posted modest growth, but the company's investment in direct-to-consumer video-streaming weighed on its bottom line.

Net income at Discovery, whose channels include HGTV, Food Network and TLC, was $476 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $269 million a year earlier.

Discovery said earnings per share on an adjusted basis were 98 cents, beating analysts' consensus of 92 cents, according to FactSet.

Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav has said that the company invested between $300 and $400 million in 2019 to develop new streaming services, which weighed on the company's profitability in the fourth quarter. Expenses were $2.17 billion, compared with $2.1 billion a year earlier.

Revenue grew 2% to $2.87 billion. In the U.S., advertising revenue rose 1% to $1.05 billion, and distribution revenue increased 5% to $673 million, reflecting an increase in the amount that pay-TV distributors and video-streaming companies were willing to pay Discovery to license the company's programming.

Advertising revenue from the company's international networks, including Eurosport, DMAX and TVN, grew 2% to $546 million, and distribution revenue rose 5% to $531 million.

Discovery also said that its board approved a buyback program for as much as $2 billion in stock earlier this month.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

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