In conversation with New York Times and CNBC journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Paley International Council Summit, Discovery’s David Zaslav talked about the continued strength of the company’s channel brands and weighed in on the prospects for its upcoming streaming platform.
On how the company has fared amid the pandemic, Zaslav noted, “We’ve been able to produce more than 1,500 hours of original content with iPhones and GoPros in Chip and Joanna’s kitchen and Mike Rowe’s living room. The content has worked great. Our share is up. We’ve gotten to look at our company from a different angle, and I think when we emerge we’ll be even more efficient and more effective.”
Zaslav continued, “We have a lot of networks that are comfort food—Food Network, HGTV, Cooking. A lot were up dramatically all over the world. After several months of people spending more time with us, I’m convinced that behaviorally that’s going to have some long tail for us. The way people are consuming content has changed, the type of content they are consuming has changed. Our overall IP library has been consumed more aggressively, with a longer length of view, almost everywhere in the world. Our content has been very compelling and of the moment.”
The pandemic “also has accelerated this new journey of direct to consumer. But traditional television is still very compelling. We’re generating $3 billion in free cash flow still, even in a very difficult year. That business is going to support and fuel this next-generation business.”
Zaslav said that Discovery’s upcoming streamer will have a clear advantage when it launches in an incredibly crowded U.S. OTT landscape, where the majors are largely battling it out with scripted series and movies, he said. “In order to differentiate they say, I have this new series. We have something we think would be a great companion to all of them. Forty-five percent of what people watch on TV is our stuff. We generate an unduplicated audience that is either number one, two or three in America, beating the majority of the broadcasters every night.”
Zaslav continued, “Almost everything out there, you wouldn’t watch while you’re homeschooling your kids, and you probably wouldn’t watch while you’re cooking dinner. But you would watch our content as a great companion, with the brands and characters of the shows you love. They’re competing for talent and shows, and we’re in our own space and we think we have something really special.”