Cable’s answer to the NewFront? Discovery buys Revision3

Major internet video platforms including YouTube (s GOOG) and Yahoo (s YHOO) have just finished making aggressive overtures to Madison Avenue, trying to steal away a portion of cable TV’s advertising share.

But on Thursday, one of cable TV’s stalwart programmers, Discovery Communications (s DISCA), answered in a big strategic way, acquiring Revision3, a top supplier of digital video to the above-mentioned platforms.

Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery will pay about $30 million to acquire San Francisco-headquartered Revision3, a producer and distributor of popular digital programs including Epic Meal Time (pictured) and Tekzilla. Overall, Revision3 programming averages 23 million monthly unique viewers, spread across 27 channnels spanning platforms such as YouTube, Yahoo, AOL (s AOL), CNET (s CBS) and Roku, just to name a few.

Over the last several years, Discovery has looked for ways to extend the programming of niche-focused channels like Science, Planet Green and Investigation Discovery to emerging internet platforms. Speaking to paidContent Thursday, a spokeswoman for the media company said Revision3 fills this need in several ways:

  • While Discovery spends about $500,000 – $700,000 to produce an hour of cable TV programming, Revision3 has been able to produce popular shows for a digital scale that’s much less than that.
  • Revision3 has also created science and technology programming that’s complementary to what Discovery already puts on its channels.
  • A number of Revision3 hosts have shown the ability to draw an audience across platforms (the Discovery rep didn’t specify which ones the company likes in particular).

Each of Revision3’s 50 employees will be retained, the company will remain in San Francisco and CEO Jim Louderback will remain in charge of day-to-day operations. “They themselves are an attractive part of this deal,” the Discovery spokeswoman said.

Revision3 was founded in 2005 by Jay Aderlson and David Prager, and enjoyed two rounds of funding valued at around $10 million.