“We are investing heavily in ‘global long IP’ (intellectual property),” he said while citing there are only three companies that own all the rights of their programming for all devices, Disney, Discovery and Scripps Networks Interactive, in a conversation with Lionsgate CEO John Feltheimer at this year’s Media Mastermind Keynote session.
Zaslav believes mobile video is on rise and he hopes to “crack the code”, pointing at Facebook, who made a very successful transition to mobile. He does not see players like Amazon and Facebook as ‘the enemy’, but is happy to work and experiment with them.
On Facebook, Discovery offers short form clips. So, far there is little money in it, but it provides the company with data of the usage.
“We’ve invested a lot of money building audience and competence and provided a lot of content, but we need to figure out a way to make the business work.”
Zaslav sees the future of the business built on three pillars of income, the first of which is the traditional (linear) channels on the legacy networks. “This is still a solid business.”
Next to it are deals with third parties, such as Amazon, Facebook and Apple, but also with operators like Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone who want some exclusive content. It is important to create specific content for the mobile players rather than just re-purpose existing content.
The third way to monetise the content is by going direct-to-consumer, both with free-to-view advertising-supported and paid-for services.
To achieve this, it is important to “create for superfans. We need to ask ourselves: would people watch this content before they watch anything else?”
Talking to a small group of journalists after the Keynote session, Zaslav shared some learnings the broadcaster had with the Eurosport Player. Rather than just offer everything to everyone, the sports channels now aim at fans of specific sports, say squash, tennis or cycling. Otherwise, there will be a huge churn.
Zaslav is also looking forward to the clearing of the acquisition of Scripps Interactive, as the two companies will be a perfect fit. “They also own all the rights for all screens.”