Discovery CEO David Zaslav Is Hopeful About New Deal With Netflix

The owner of channels that include TLC and Animal Planet just inked a licensing pact with Hulu

Discovery Communications and Netflix are still talking about a new licensing deal, says Discovery chief executive David Zaslav.

On Tuesday morning, Discovery announced its first-ever content partnership with Hulu, covering programming from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other channels. The deal will give Hulu rights to air popular shows, including Deadliest Catch, Mythbusters and Say Yes to the Dress.

The deal evidently isn't exclusive, as Zaslav told a New York investment conference on Tuesday that he's been in talks with Netflix content acquisition chief Ted Sarandos after the streaming platform removed Discovery shows in early October.

"I was with Ted Sarandos at an event at Oprah's house," he said. "We want to deal with them. They want to do deal with us. It's a question of value."

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Discovery last signed a two-year deal with Netflix in 2011. That pact gave Netflix the rights to Discovery shows 18 months after airing on cable television, according to Zaslav, while the Hulu deal has pushed the window to only a year.

Zaslav called the Hulu deal "good economics" and says it supports the company's overall strategy of producing its own shows and owning all rights. He says the strategy is particularly paying dividends internationally, especially in Western Europe, where Discovery is showing 20 percent growth. He adds that a lot of local players have stopped investing in original content because the economy is weak but that Discovery is amping up its own investments, and the strategy is paying dividends.

"We continue to have a good growth story," he says. "We should outperform most media companies here in the U.S. But our real strength is international business."

Besides touting company endeavors like picking up additional rights for Eurosport, Zaslav also expressed a commitment to OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Asked about consolidation to OWN's structure, Zaslav said that the network is "working great" and "showing growth," which he says means "let's leave it alone."

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