Discovery searching for answers amidst ratings plunge

Discovery Communications’ shares plunged 8.2 percent on Monday after the company lowered its estimate for US ad revenue.

The company blamed the missed revenue forecast on a quarter-to-date ratings decline of 23 percent in its flagship “Discovery Channel.”

Chief Executive David Zaslav in announcing the revision at an investment conference, said Discovery now expects US advertising to grow between 2 and 3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Prior guidance called for growth of between 3 percent and 5 percent.

Zaslav added that ratings fell after production issues on “Fast N’ Loud” — a reality show featuring the crew at Gas Monkey Garage — forced Discovery to delay the series’ return until 2019.

The exit of “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV in April was another blow, he said.

Discovery has 19 channels in the United States, ranging from Food Network to Animal Planet.

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger reported in a Monday update that ratings for all 19 were down 11 percent last week, compared with the same week a year ago.

Discovery closed Monday at $28.20 — down from $30.72 on Friday.

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