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CEO David Zaslav Declares Discovery Networks as the ‘New Sports’ in Wake of COVID-19

Stephanie Sengwe

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing everyone to stay at home, people have turned to streaming in order to keep themselves occupied. Sports programming, usually at its apex during this part of the year, has seen a huge lull since people aren’t allowed to gather for events. But food and lifestyle content networks such as Discovery have benefitted from people staying at home.

During their Q1 2020 earnings call today, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav declared that Discovery’s channels are currently the new sports. “As I’ve said for a very long time, sports works differently outside the U.S. When people want sports, in most cases, it’s on premium and they make the choice to pay for it. Here, we have an overstuffed bundle where sports has been stuffed in and leveraged in, which is one of the reasons why we see this the challenge that the U.S. marketplace has been seeing where subs are flat or slightly growing around the world and declining here,” Zaslav stated. “Having said that, I look at Food and HG and Cooking, we’re the new sports. Our channels are the new sports. The numbers are huge. The engagement with our characters and with our talent is enormous.”

Zaslav also spoke on Amazon’s decision to bring Food Network Kitchen to their Fire TV and Fire tablet customers. In late April, the e-commerce giant announced their U.S. customers would have access to the streaming service free of charge for a year. Amazon was Discoveryโ€™s launch partner when they debuted Food Network Kitchen back in October.

Zaslav stated, “I would just recommend that you all go to Fire. We’re on the front page. We’re getting equal billing with Hulu and some of the other big, great platforms. And there are some days where they put us on basically take over most of the page … It just started a week ago, but whether they have 30 million or 40 million, they have tens of millions of subscribers to Fire, they love Food Network Kitchen and they’re providing the opportunity for people to get that for a year for free, which we think is fantastic. The partnership is strong, and they’re marketing it.”