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Discovery snaps up Condé Nast’s Golf Digest for $30M

Discovery is buying Golf Digest from Condé Nast for an estimated $30 million, expanding its reach beyond its golf-streaming sweet spot, according to sources close to the situation.

The deal, in which Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav prevailed in a bidding war over the Comcast-owned NBC Sports Group, the owner of the Golf Channel, is expected to be announced as early as Monday.

Discovery, which owns the Food Network and HGTV, is suddenly swinging a big club in global golf. Last year, it inked a 12-year, $2 billion deal to carry PGA Tour events outside the US and started GolfTV, a live and on-demand video streaming service outside the US.

The US rights to the PGA Tour broadcasts are held by Comcast-owned NBC and its Golf Channel, with a limited number of events on CBS. All the domestic deals expire in 2021.

The $30 million price tag is a fraction of the estimated $430 million that Condé Nast paid to buy the monthly magazine and several smaller titles from The New York Times back in 1990.

But it was a different era then, with the monthly and its sister titles tossing off profits of around $20 million a year. The monthly was said to be losing money in recent years, and sister title Golf for Women is closed. The weekly Golf World is now digital-only, and many advertisers are turning to TV and Web sites.

Digital advertising now accounts for nearly half of Golf Digest’s ad revenue.

Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde and the rest of the editorial staff are expected to stay with the magazine, according to sources, although the advertising staff may face cuts as Golf Digest and the PGA Tour begin to jointly handle ad sales.

Condé Nast put the magazine on the block in August along with W and Brides, but the latter two have yet to find buyers. Discovery and Condé Nast declined to comment.

The selloff will mark the second major print retreat in the past two weeks by the billionaire Newhouse family, which owns Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast.

On May 2, the company’s Advance Local informed stunned staffers at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that they would be out of a job in 60 days and that competitor New Orleans Advocate had purchased the newspaper name and the NOLA.com url address.

The Newhouse family, looking for new ventures, said recently it has earmarked $10 billion for a buying spree in non-media properties.

The family will still be tied to Golf Digest through its estimated $5 billion stock holding in Discovery Inc.

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