The Discovery Channel and its parent company, Cable Educational Network Inc., was founded by John Hendricks in 1982. Several investors raised $5 million to launch the network.
The channel began broadcasting in 1985 in 156,000 households.
In the early years, The Discovery Channel focused on educational programming, such as wildlife documentaries and science and historical specials.
By 1990 the channel was available in 50 million households.
In 2000 The Discovery Channel began to change its programming, including reality-based series focusing on automotive occupations, and investigations. In 2005 the channel added popular science and historical themes.
Today the channel’s most popular shows include MythBusters, Unsolved History, Best Evidence, Dirty Jobs, and Deadliest Catch.
The Discovery Channel is available in over 400 million households worldwide and is owned by Discovery Communications, Inc.
The channel received negative reviews and calls of bait and switch after it advertised that Paul Rosolie, host of Eaten Alive, was going to go headfirst and be eaten by a 20-foot anaconda snake. After 90 minutes, it became clear that Rosolie was wearing a compression suit and that while the confused snake did attack, he was not going to be eaten.
Discovery Communications is publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol DISCA, is a member of the S&P 500, is #531 on the Fortune 1000, has 5,700 employees, and had $5.54 billion in revenue in 2013.