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Discovery in deal with Verizon, outlines MENA ambitions

David Zaslav

David Zaslav

Discovery Communications is to begin supplying content to an upcoming mobile TV-focused OTT service from US telco Verizon.

The deal is for both long- and short-form programming from Discovery’s bouquet of channels, the firm’s president and CEO, David Zaslav, revealed during an earnings call yesterday.

“I’m pleased to announce an agreement with Verizon to bring long and short-form content from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, ID and the Science Channel, including full episodes of prior seasons of hit shows to Verizon’s US mobile subscribers,” he said.

According to US reports, Verizon’s “mobile-first” video platform will be aimed at cord-cutting millennials and be called Go90. It will reportedly be first launched as an ad-supported free platform.

“This deal extends our platform reach to Verizon customers beyond our traditional pay TV customer base and adds yet another source to our distribution revenue stream,” said Zaslav. “While we drive to extend the delivery of our content to new platforms, we also are working to maximise and exploit our traditional business in the US.”

Go90 is set to launch in beta some time soon, with the company previously suggesting a “late summer” debut. A subscription option is expected to be added, and it will include some exclusive content.

Separately, Zaslav said that Discovery was adopting a “free-to-air partnership strategy in the growing Middle East and North African market” that includes the company’s recent deal with Doğuş Media Group in Turkey and the launch of free-to-air channel Quest Arabiya.

He said that the deal with the Turkish group gave Discovery its “first free-to-air channel in this emerging growth market that expands and diversifies our platforms and windows for our content in Turkey, a key market for us”, while Quest Arabiya, a joint venture with Image Nation, would “expand Discovery’s seven network portfolio in the market, which already includes six pay-TV Discovery brands and the free-to-air channel Fatafeat”.

Addressing Discovery’s recent acquisition of 100% ownership of Eurosport from TF1, Zaslav said that this would allow the company “to further strengthen the brand and decision-making process, more readily secure important sports rights on a local or pan regional basis, and fully realise the businesses growth potential”.

Zaslav said that Discovery would continue to invest in Eurosport, which grew its audience by 6% in the last quarter, building its brand in Europe and Asia in the build up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Zaslav said that Discovery’s landmark Olympic deal would position Eurosport and for the next 10 years.

Discovery posted second quarter revenues of US$1.65 billion (€1.52 billion) for the three months to June 30, on net income of US$286 million, which is down from US$379 million the previous year. As with other international media groups posting lower Q2 revenues this week, Discovery primarily attributed the drop to high foreign currency losses as the dollar grows in strength.

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