Discovery CEO on Targeting Telecom Giants With 5G Mobile Content

David Zaslav 1 - 2017 Ignition Future of Media - Getty - H 2018
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David Zaslav told an investors conference his company was focused on distributing its original IP to Verizon, AT&T and other telecom giants as they launch 5G services.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav is looking to sell U.S. phone giants on his company's food and lifestyle content as they roll out next-generation 5G technology.

"We have this great content, and we're open to do business with anyone," the exec on Tuesday told the Citi 2019 Global TMT West Conference in Las Vegas during a session that was webcast. Zaslav said a big driver for Discovery is exploiting its Food Network, HGTV and other lifestyle content by partnering with domestic telecom and digital giants for content creation and delivery using high-capacity 5G mobile networks.

"You can download The Kominsky Method in three seconds, but we have real functional content, and we're hoping that between food and home and do-it-yourself and cooking, there's great stuff we can do with 5G, that we can do with Verizon or AT&T or with T-Mobile, and that could be functionally compelling, versus just watching a show," he told investors.

Discovery, whose networks include Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and OWN, earlier acquired Scripps Network Interactive, which operates HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network, to create a powerhouse in the unscripted and lifestyle content field amid continuing industry consolidation.

Zaslav said his enlarged Discovery empire was looking to monetize the Scripps content by distributing it via 5G technology and other new digital platforms. "If you're Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Apple or any of the FANG companies and you say you need more IP, we have a menu," he added.

The CEO during his Citi conference presentation also touted Discovery's diversification into sports content, which includes a multiyear global content partnership between its Golf TV streaming service, the PGA Tour and Tiger Woods, and a newly unveiled deal to take a majority 71 percent stake in digital cycling platform Play Sports Group.

"We are serious about going deep and powering people's passions," Zaslav explained about targeting niche sport audiences to leverage Discovery's global reach for its original content. He also addressed questions about the U.S. advertising market as traditional media companies in 2018 saw price declines and industry headwinds.

"From an advertising perspective, the advertising market seems very stable," Zaslav told investors are his flagship Discovery Channel experienced some ratings weakness in its fiscal fourth quarter. He added Discovery was chasing audiences online, having done recent content deals with Hulu and Sling TV.

Added Zaslav, "I'm hoping in the U.S. things will get better with the skinny bundles."