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The combination of Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which on May 17 unveiled a mega-deal to merge, will be “uniquely competitive with Netflix and Disney,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said on Wednesday.
Speaking during the virtual J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, the man who will lead the combined company was also asked about the broader trend of entertainment industry consolidation right as Amazon.com was about to announce its $8.45 billion takeover of MGM.
“I don’t think Amazon got the idea for MGM from us, but we are happy about that deal,” he said. “Look at the value. It’s all about the IP,” intellectual property. Zaslav also called WarnerMedia “the greatest treasure of global IP.”
But he emphasized that the merged firm would not back away from Discovery’s traditional non-fiction programming, highlighting the engagement it drives for a lower production cost. “If we built a product on the back of scripted series only or mostly, and having to promote all those series, that’s expensive, and it doesn’t have the long-term nourishing sustainability,” said Zaslav.
He and AT&T CEO John Stankey shared their visions for the mega-combination last week, with Zaslav saying that his “number one priority” would be building “relationships with the creative community,” adding that he plans to spend time in Los Angeles, New York and anywhere else that talent is based. “I will be anywhere in the world the creatives are, to strive to create the best creative culture,” he vowed. “We want our company to be the place where people that want creativity” can find it.
And he said: “The story of the Warner brothers is the story of everyone in our industry. Success is about creative talent in front of the screen and behind the screen, and fighting for the culture that creates that vision.”
One of the main questions Wall Street has been wondering about is what the merged firm’s streaming offerings will look like. “We will have enormous flexibility in how we package our streaming services,” Zaslav said last week, adding: “We will look at the range of options to unlock value here in the U.S. and around the world.”
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