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Discovery CEO Predicts a Dwindling of Regional Sports Networks on Skinny Bundles, Talks ‘Seinfeld’ and Discovery Go Apps

Stephanie Sengwe

During the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference which took place in New York, Discovery CEO, David Zaslav spoke about the current media landscape and the role Discovery plays as streaming wars are more intense than ever.

Most notable were his comments on the high-cost of adding regional sports networks to skinny bundles. According to Zaslav, because of the costliness of adding sports elements to a skinny bundle, most services opt out of adding them.

He stated, “A skinny bundle is not skinny if it’s $40 or $50…The issue that we have is that there is too much stuff that is being leveraged into this so-called skinny bundle. There is no such thing as a skinny bundle with regional sports networks that costs $10. Regional sports may get puked out because it’s very expensive, viewership is low, and it may have tipped over.”

With competition for scripted originals as well as legacy content currently at its peak, Zaslav also spoke on his confidence in where Discovery stands. Because they own their own content and don’t have to depend on licensing programming, Discovery gets to gain market share as consumers switch between services looking for their favorite shows. “People are not coming to our channels just for shows, but they put on Food Network because they love it and they watch it all day,” he explained. “Those other platforms are really relying on scripted series or repeats and people are moving to other platforms for that. So they’re declining and we’re gaining share.”

The race to get streaming rights to Seinfeld—which saw Netflix victorious—served as further reassurance for Discovery’s position. “What we saw yesterday, were every player bid on Seinfeld, what that says from our perspective is, [that space] is competitive. They need more—each one of those players is looking around and saying, ‘if I want to build a scale business, if I want to get to 100 million subscribers, I need more [content].’”

Zaslav also gave details on Discovery’s Go apps—which allow pay TV subscribers to watch full episodes and live TV from its networks on demand. The apps have a growing consumer base in teenagers and 25-year-olds and have been successful enough to generate more revenue for the company. “Unlike any other media company, we have aggregated these Go apps, and we think in the next two to three years our biggest cable network in the U.S. is going to be this Go platform,” Zaslav said.

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