CES 2018: Discovery’s Zaslav Says Serving the ‘Superfan’ a Major Key to Success

Las Vegas -- As OTT video becomes more prolific and as consumers continue to alter their viewing habits, serving the “superfan” with curated content has become increasingly paramount, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said here Wednesday at a CES keynote discussion.

For Discovery, that strategy will largely continue to focus on non-fiction fare, which emphasizes “enthusiasts and superfan networks,” Zaslav said.

That focus has also been a big driver behind Discovery’s proposed play for Scripps Networks Interactive, which offers a complement of networks and content in non-fiction areas such as food, home and gardening, travel and cooking.

“People not only…fall in love with the show, but they fall in love with the curation,” Zaslav said, noting that the plan is not just to provide deep baskets of long-form content that suits their interests, but also in smaller bites that can be distributed across all platforms.

“We think we can take advantage of that ecosystem by following the superfans and the enthusiasts for cars or science, or food or cooking all around the world and sort of super-feed them,” he added.

Zaslav also stressed the importance of not just owning the content, but also owning the global distribution rights. Discovery owns all of the content on its platforms all across the globe, with the exception of its Eurosport offerings.

“We’re IP [intellectual property] long,” he said. “But we’re also betting that owning the windows for that content globally will give us really unique status.”

Zaslav also talked up the implications of smart digital assistants and voice navigation, noting that those will provide another way for Discovery and others to provide complementary content in niches and genres that they are about, such as a recipe or instructions on how to build a bench.

Voice navigation “will be big in the way people consume content in the years ahead,” he predicted.

Zaslav and fellow panelist, LionTree LLC CEO Aryeh Bourkoff, were also asked to size up the M&A landscape in the TV and media industry.

Bourkoff acknowledged that it’s a “great time to be a creator,” but stressed that the business model for traditional industries don’t always align with changing consumer behavior. “And that is creating a lot of friction,” he said.

Bourkoff said companies with scale can preserve existing models for longer than smaller companies, which will be the ones that will need to seek out a dance partner.