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Discovery Communications to buy

The cable TV conglomerate, as part of a larger digital strategy, snaps up the tutorial reference site founded almost a decade ago by a North Carolina State professor.

Discovery Communications, parent company of the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, has made plans to acquire HowStuffWorks, which calls itself "the leading source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world actually works."

The news was originally reported in The Wall Street Journal, which named a price of $250 million.

Atlanta-based HowStuffWorks, which was founded in 1998 by North Carolina State University professor Marshall Brain (yes, that's his real name), pulls in about 3.8 million unique U.S. visitors per month, according to ComScore. Instead of issuing a press release to announce the acquisition, the site created a HowStuffWorks article in the "television" category called "The Future of Media is Now," explaining how the popularity of YouTube, video-enabled media players, and high-definition technology have created conditions ideal for such an acquisition.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, Discovery will integrate its own education-based video programming with HowStuffWorks articles and potentially factor HowStuffWorks into future broadcasts.

It's all part of a broader digital strategy for Discovery Communications; earlier this year, the company purchased the widely read environmental blog TreeHugger as a new-media property for its Planet Green network.