Discovery is increasingly open to all forms of distribution including direct-to-consumer and would be keen to join Apple’s OTT TV service, according to JB Perrette, president, Discovery Networks International.
Delivering a ‘fireside chat’ keynote at the IBC conference in Amsterdam, Perrette said that Discovery would “love to be” an app on Apple TV. Responding to a question about Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comments about the future of TV being app-based, he said that the company was “in constant conversation” with Apple about doing a deal, although it had nothing to announce at present.
“We don’t define ourselves as a pay TV business exclusively,” said Perrette, referring to the company’s launch of free to air channels in key markets as well as D2C offerings. He said the company was increasingly launching direct-to-consumer offerings including Eurosport Player and other initiatives.
“This is [underpinned] by an evolution of content,” said Perrette. He said sport is a “must have content genre” that is “time-shifting proof”. He said that Discovery was able to expand Eurosport internationally thanks to having a broader international presence than previous owner TF1. He said Discovery knew it had to reinvest in rights to make the Eurosport investment work. “The focus for Eurosport today is around localisation and upgrading around programming, production, promotion and platforms.”
He said Eurosport had been innovative in launching a direct-to-consumer proposition.
Referring to direct-to-consumer offering Dplay in the Nordic market, Perrette said that “getting the capability…for D2C is not a small task and having the people with that [capability] is huge”. He said that D2C had to be done in “a way that is additive to our core business”.
Perrette said that consumers did not want to pay lots of different content providers to access programming on an a la carte basis. He said the fastest growing part of the music business is subscription of aggregated services. “We started in the Nordics because we have 20-30% share thanks to our SBS business…It’s an aggregated product. It would be tougher in a market where we just had the Discovery channel. Aggregation is going to win. You have to do it where you have scale.”
Perrette said that international markets had learned a lot from the difficulties of getting TV everywhere services for ’authenticated’ pay TV users off the ground in the US. “Content rights were not always there and the authentication process was horrible”, he said. Elsewhere, the launch of services had gone much smoother and been more successful.
Perrette said D2C was “a totally different animal in terms of infrastructure. “We are learning a lot about the technical infrastructure scalability,” he said.
Perrette said that rights ownership would be key as content distribution becomes more varied.
Discovery is also increasingly open to non-core content genres, including fiction. Following its acquisition of All3Media, Perrette said, “we are evolving the company from a content perspective. As well look at that diversification, All3Media was a fantastic fit. A third of what they do is fiction, which is not a genre we know well.” He said that Discovery did not plan to launch drama channels but that the company devolved a lot of decision making to local teams, and that this could involve the launch of services around genres that have not traditionally been seen as core.
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