Discovery CEO David Zaslav on WarnerMedia Deal, Content, HBO, Steaming – Deadline
Discovery CEO David Zaslav said WarnerMedia’s content machine and his company’s global reach will more than secure the merged operations a place at the Netflix and Disney + winner’s table. At a press conference on Tuesday, he repeatedly praised HBO hit Casey Bloys The Easttown mare, CNN / Jeff Zucker, theatrical releases and a lean ad streaming strategy.
“I’m moving straight into the Warner Bros. batch. I want to be where the content is created, ”he said during a lengthy Q&A at Credit Suisse. It “starts with cinema and no one can open a movie in the world like Warner Bros.,” he said. “We are going to focus on motion business because it is a real strategic advantage. Because that’s where the stars are made. They didn’t go to Hollywood to do a TV show that aired on a streaming service.
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He also spoke about the small screen, mainly HBO’s Kate Winslet seven-part series. Easttown mare which just ended. He said guests at a recent Sunday dinner he attended rushed home to watch the show.
Zaslav’s dance card in the past few weeks since the deal was announced has been filled with town halls and investor meetings to appease employees at WarnerMedia, which is changing hands again after just three years, and Wall Streeters who are also wary. AT&T announced on May 17 a $ 43 billion deal to separate WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery to form a new stand-alone company. AT&T shareholders will own more than 70% of the shares in the new company, Discovery holders the rest.
It is expected to close in the middle of next year and during that time executives will align with organizational charts, merge corporate cultures and work on the big question: what kind of streaming service / services will emerge from HBO Max and Discovery +? And CNN +, which AT&T CEO John Stankey confirmed last week will perform. With or without advertising? At what price ?
“We have some great ideas, but we’re going to learn a lot over the next (months) and bring our strategy to you outside of the US when we’re ready. In the US we also have a really good idea of what we’re going to do and how we can aggregate a massive audience… But I think we have to wait for that and we’re going to try a lot of things, [will] see how the competition is doing, how we are doing and listen to what consumers want.
“We will be ready. If it’s nine months or 12 or 15 months, be ready to go, ”he said,
Zaslav said TBS and TNT, seen as declining linear assets, should be considered for their sports portfolio, including NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, ELEAGUE and professional golf, as well as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. “Everything except the NFL,” he said.
“Look under that hood, I think it’s a very smart strategy. This protects against inconvenience and secures you a good slice of the advertising pie.
Discovery brings a team including Oprah, Chip and Joanna Gaine, Guy Fieri and dozens of others. Its global reach, which can be a difficult story for investors to accept, makes it possibly “the most complicated media company in the world today,” Zaslav mentioned.
“What we have done is very difficult,” he said of local production in over 200 countries, local sports in 56 countries with sports rights agreements, distribution agreements, working with mobile actors in all countries. “What should we broadcast in Italy and which sports are really popular in Poland (ski jumping apparently) or Holland (handball).
“A lot of American players came and watched Eurosport [which Discovery acquired in 2014] and said, ‘It’s so hard.’ Forty languages. We are spoiled in the United States.