TCA 2018: Discovery Execs Tout New Company

CEO David Zaslav says Scripps merger transition going better than expected
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Four months after Discovery Communications' purchase of Scripps Network Interactive, executives from Discovery Inc. speaking Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour declared the company in a good position both in front of and behind the camera.

Discovery Inc. logo (new, March 2018)

With its focus on offering quality content, the combined Scripps and Discovery-owned services – which include such networks as Food Network, HGTV, DIY, Discovery Channel, TLC, OWN, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery – provide the company with programming and marketing synergies that further help build already strong brands, according to Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who addressed TV critics along with Discovery Chief Brand Officer and Factual Nancy Daniels, Chief Lifestyles Brand Officer Kathleen Finch, and Animal Planet Global President Susanna Dinnage.

“We have four of the top five [most watched] networks for women,” Zaslav said. “If we can promote across all of our networks the broad reach that we have now, we have the ability to tell people [watching] Food and HGTV that something great is going on over on TLC. Things are going better than expected and we’re having a good time.”

The executives said the merged networks will not change their respective programming strategies or brand focus under the new Discovery company, although Discovery Channel will now focus exclusively on the non-scripted business despite some ratings and critical success with recent scripted limited series Manhunt: The Unabomber and Harley and The Davidsons.

“[Both] projects were critically well received, but at the end of the day we decided to do what we do best and focus on non-fiction programming,” Daniels said. “There’s a lot of scripted content out there and its really hard to break through … we decided to focus on what we do best.”

Zaslav also alluded to a potential Discovery networks-based OTT service but would not reveal specific details. “We really see the media business as being two sides: one side is scripted series and movies, and we’ve moved away from that,” he said. “There are great companies competing against each other, and eventually they’re all going to be offering [OTT] services for $10 to $15,” he said. “We have everything else. We think an offering of all of our content for $6, $7 or $8 will look very different to consumers around the world. We like where we are right now.”

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