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Discovery preferred bidder in Scripp takeover battle, in deal for at least $90 a share -- sources

  • At $90 a share, the deal could be about $11.7 billion.
  • Discovery and Viacom have battled it out seeking an edge in an increasingly fragmented market.
John Colaneri, Anthony Carrino, Sunny Anderson, Kenneth W. Lowe, Katie Lee, Andrew Zimmern and guests of Scripps Networks Interactive ring the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ on June 2, 2016 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic | Getty Images
John Colaneri, Anthony Carrino, Sunny Anderson, Kenneth W. Lowe, Katie Lee, Andrew Zimmern and guests of Scripps Networks Interactive ring the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ on June 2, 2016 in New York City.

Discovery Communications, the operator of the TLC and Animal Planet cable channels, is said to be the preferred buyer of Scripps Networks Interactive in a deal that could fetch at least $90 a share, sources told CNBC.

Scripps, which operates lifestyle channels such as HGTV and Food Network, has entered exclusive negotiations with Discovery to finalize a deal in the next few days after deciding its bid was superior to a rival one from Viacom, the sources said.

At $90 a share, the deal would be roughly $11.7 billion based on Scripps' share count. Earlier, sources told CNBC that the family behind Scripps was looking for at least 50 percent cash in the deal.

Scripps shares are up nearly 18 percent this year, while Discovery shares are down 3 percent through Wednesday's close.

Scripps rose 2.6 percent in early trading Thursday.

Discovery and Viacom battled for Scripps to bolster their offerings in a market that has been fragmented by consumers dumping cable for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.