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The ongoing writers strike is threatening the long-term strategic plans of the major entertainment companies, but while some companies are reported to be pleased that the strike could give them an opportunity to trim costs, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav says he doesn’t share that point of view.
“We’re not glad,” he said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Friday morning, when pressed by co-host Joe Kernen about the potential cost savings.
“Look, we’re a pure storytelling company, and we’ve been fighting to get the greatest creatives to come work at Warner Bros.,” Zaslav said. “In order to create great storytelling, we need great writers, and we need the whole industry to work together, and everybody deserves to be paid fairly. So our number one focus is, Let’s try and get this resolved. Let’s do it in a way that the writers feel that they’re valued — which they are — and they’re compensated fairly. And then off we go. Let’s tell great stories together.”
He was further asked about what common ground could help end the strike, and he responded by pointing out the unique role entertainment plays in popular culture.
“I think a love for the business and a love for working,” Zaslav said when asked about a trigger that could bring the sides together. “We all came into this business because we love storytelling, we want to entertain, and when we’re at our best, we get a chance to have an impact on the culture. … And so that’s what’s gonna bring us together.”
As for the economics, Zaslav remains bullish on streaming (he noted that the company’s U.S. streaming business will be profitable this year), though he acknowledged that the changing consumption model makes it harder to predict.
“We think streaming is going to be very profitable for us. We are unique. We have a lot of scale. We have the largest TV and motion picture library, and we have HBO, some of the greatest creatives, and we have all of our Discovery content,” Zaslav said. “Having said that, the industry is in the middle of some significant disruption, and people are changing the way they consume content. And so it’s very difficult to figure out, you know, how does that work? What’s the right value for it? When it was just everyone consumed content on a TV set, and it was a model that existed for 50 years, it was very easy to figure out, ‘Where’s the value and how do we carve it up fairly?’.”
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