Discovery CEO Says Hulu Streaming Deal Is "Big Day" for Media Giant

David Zaslav 1 - 2017 Ignition Future of Media - Getty - H 2018
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David Zaslav told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference that its latest distribution deal affirms Discovery's faith in skinny bundles.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Wednesday touted his expansive licensing deal with Hulu, unveiled earlier in the day. The exec said the the deal ensures the media company's programming continues to dominate live and on-demand subscription products in the U.S. market.

"It is a big day for us, in terms of our overall U.S. exposure," Zaslav told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference during a session that was webcast.

The multiyear agreement with Hulu makes that digital platform the exclusive non-Discovery on-demand streaming home for such programs as Deadliest Catch, Mythbusters and Say Yes to the Dress, as Hulu gains access to a library of around 4,000 episodes of Discovery programming.

"Today is an affirmation that, in the end, the consumer wins. When they buy those skinny bundles, they just don't want forced broadcast and sports programming. They want the channels they love," Zaslav said. Asked if the rates per subscriber Discovery secured in the Hulu deal were similar to rates already received from existing cable and satellite deals, Zaslav was coy.

"The economics on those deals are favorable for us," he said of Discovery's licensing deal with Hulu and a separate partnership with Sling. His appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference follows Discovery acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive to create a powerhouse in the unscripted and lifestyle content field amid continuing industry consolidation.

Scripps brought HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network to the merger, among others, while Discovery's networks include the likes of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and OWN. "We feel like we're one company now. I feel it was a fantastic transaction," Zaslav said, as Discovery continues to drive Scripps content further into the global market.

Zaslav also discussed Discovery's possible direct to consumer push in the U.S. market. "We can do it, we've looked at doing it, and we may do it," he said, before arguing Discovery for now is relying on existing distributors licensing its content to drive their skinny bundle offerings to cord-cutters and cord-nevers.

"The best-case scenario is the existing distributors aggressively going direct to consumers," he told investors.