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Zaslav Looks Forward, Looks Back

David Zaslav, outgoing president of NBC Universal cable, syndication and new media, offered a peek into what the future holds at Discovery, where he becomes CEO in early 2007. Speaking over lunch at the UBS Media and Communications Conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York, Zaslav vowed to hone his focus on the Discovery core audience by keeping programming niche-oriented, as opposed to reaching a wider audience with more varied programs. “We have to keep things central to the Discovery brand,” he said. “Your audience needs to say, ‘this is what I expect to see.’”

He also vowed to further bring the Discovery networks to the international market.

Zaslav showed eagerness to try out some of his new-media strategies at Discovery, calling online video “another bite of the apple.” But he stressed that he was unlikely to give programming away to the likes of YouTube and Google. “You have to get paid value for your content,” he said.

Careful to say “we” when referring to NBCU and “they” for Discovery, Zaslav expressed gratitude to NBCU, and demurred when asked if he’d rather work for Jeff Zucker or John Malone, the Liberty Media CEO who sits on the Discovery board. “Jeff Zucker has a great vision and is a great leader,” he said.

By Mike Malone