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Discovery: ‘perfect moment’ for ‘definitive’ natural history SVOD platform

Blue Planet II

Discovery’s content deal with the BBC has set the stage for the factual giant to create “the definitive natural history and factual streaming platform in the world”, according to president and CEO David Zaslav.

Speaking on the company’s Q1 earnings call, Zaslav said that now was “the perfect moment to create this type of service, high in both entertainment value and global impact and relevancy”, citing the example of Blue Planet 2, which was not only “ among the all-time top shows ever aired in the UK” but which “ignited a major global call to action” on the presence of plastics in the world’s oceans.

Zaslav said he believed there was an opportunity for a range of streaming scripted content services priced between US$7 to US$15, which “will go up over the next couple of years”.

He said people will probably subscribe to two or three services and churn regularly between them based on content they want to watch at any given time.

However, he said, scripted content was only “50% of what people love” and the other 50% was “what we have”.

“There is really nobody in our space,” said Zaslav. With all BBC content coming off Netflix to feed the new SVOD offering and the ability to offer event programming like Planet Earth 3 and the next Blue Planet, he said that Discovery could offer something that is unique.

Discovery posted solid results for the quarter, with revenue of US$2.707 billion up 17% on a reported basis and up 21% at constant currency. However, on a proforma combined basis, excluding currency effects, total revenues were down 5%, hit by the comparative impact of revenues from the Winter Olympics last year and the sale of the group’s education business.

Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortisation was up 63% on a reported basis to US$1.159 billion, and up 21% on a proforma basis, with OIBDA from international networks up 46% thanks to the lack of the Olympics and associated costs this year.