Discovery CEO: We Aren't Looking to Grow Our Channels

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Is Discovery Communications admitting defeat, or just in tune with reality?

David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications.
David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications. Credit: Courtesy Discovery Communications

Speaking at UBS' Media & Communications Conference Monday morning, Discovery President-CEO David Zaslav said the company isn't focused on growing its traditional TV channels. Instead, the company's priority moving into 2017 is to "tighten its niches."

As people curate content on different devices, Mr. Zaslav said "it's not about scale of viewers; it's about how voracious viewers are" for the content.

Mr. Zaslav said Discovery's ratings could be higher, but the focus is on creating content that has a global appeal. He noted that its crime channel, Investigation Discovery, has a longer tune-in than Fox News among women. He said that while other networks may air crime show or car shows (the focus of its Velocity network), people who are avid fans of these categories know they can come to ID or Velocity at any time and get this content.

This is important, he said, when it comes to getting channels on skinny bundles and over-the-top services, and for getting higher subscriber fees.

It's also essential for taking brands directly to the consumer, which Mr. Zaslav said the company is "well-positioned" to do next year.

When it comes to advertising, Mr. Zaslav said the fourth quarter is better than expected both in the U.S. and globally. He noted improvement at TLC, in particular.

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