Discovery Channel’s Sterling Expansion Moves Forward

Discovery Channel’s Sterling Expansion Moves Forward

The expansion of Discovery’s 55,000-square-foot broadcast operations facility in Sterling is official, as the media giant recently closed on its $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive.

The combined company, now known as Discovery Inc., operates about 20 percent of the U.S. cable and satellite ad-buying market, including Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and Animal Planet.

The Sterling broadcasting facility opened in 2005 near the intersection of Route 28 and Sterling Boulevard. The center transmits more than 80 global feeds, housing multi-channel control rooms, high-tech network servers and other infrastructure. Former Scripps-owned stations such as Food Network and HGTV will be translated into many more languages to be broadcast worldwide through Discovery’s distribution network.

Discovery’s national operations are planned to be housed in Knoxville, Tenn., with worldwide leadership offices moving from Silver Spring, Md., to New York by next year.

More details on exact changes to the Sterling operation will be forthcoming, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Several jobs at Discovery’s Sterling center were advertised online, including for a broadcast operations manager, media operations manager, senior cybersecurity engineer, compression engineer, master control operator and distribution staff engineer.

Loudoun officials said they could not release any new details until Discovery does. “We are excited to work with them on the expansion of their technology hub and will do everything we can to make that a smooth and successful process for them,” said Buddy Rizer, executive director of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.

While leaving the 550,000-square-foot headquarters in Silver Spring, Discovery will maintain a much smaller Maryland office for functions such as government relations. The company was founded in Landover in 1985, then moved headquarters to Bethesda in 1991 and Silver Spring in 2003. Discovery employs about 1,300 people in Silver Spring.

With the move, the number of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters in Maryland will decline to three unless a lower-ranked company makes a substantial jump. They are all in Bethesda – defense giant Lockheed Martin, Marriott International and Host Hotels & Resorts.

Virginia is home to the headquarters of 23 Fortune 500 businesses, which are ranked by gross revenues. While none are in Loudoun, 11 are in Reston, Falls Church and other parts of Northern Virginia. Those include three in the top 100: Falls Church-based defense company General Dynamics, and mortgage business Freddie Mac and Capital One Financial, both in McLean.

Dulles-based aerospace and defense company Orbital ATK, which ranked 549th on the 2017 Fortune list, is the largest business by revenues headquartered in Loudoun.

Job fair set April 4

Compu Dynamics, K2M and Chesapeake Technology are among companies participating in the second annual “Hire Loudoun” career fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4 at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott.

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, county economic development department and Leesburg-based firm Purpose WorX are sponsoring the event.

Several large satellite antennas sit on Discovery’s grounds in Sterling. [Kevin Shay photo]