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David Zaslav Calls CNN Plus Shutdown A ‘Decisive Action’

David Zaslav Discovery Stock Options
David Zaslav

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav called the shutdown of CNN Plus the kind of “swift and decisive action” investors can expect as the company looks to save $3 billion. 

CNN Plus was shut down just 33 days after it was launched.

Speaking on Warner Bros. Discovery's first quarter earnings call Tuesday, Zaslav also called CNN a “true reputational asset,” and that recent events proved that “during critical moments the world turns to CNN.” 

Zaslav added that CNN is the No. 1 digital news service with 35 million monthly unique viewers. 

Zaslav contrasted CNN to the advocacy networks, which “make a lot of money.” He said CNN had the best journalistic organization in the world and that the company was fully committed to it.

Zaslav said news “has never been more important” and that facts “are the foundation for a civilized society.”

He added that the news business was scalable and that the new company will be taking CNN around the world more aggressively.

CNN Plus reportedly did not fit with Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy.

Zaslav noted that Discovery had been a "cash flow machine" and that his team would bring its financial discipline to WarnerMedia to make sure it fully monetizes the content it produces.

Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said that WarnerMedia’s first quarter results came in $500 million lower than expected. He told investors that would leave the combined company’s debt level a bit higher than expected, but that the company was sticking to its financial guidance.

He said the company was working on the $3 billion in cost savings it has promised Wall Street and pointed to the shut down of CNN Plus as an example of the company’s financial discipline.

Zaslav said the company’s streaming strategy was to offer “simplicity and choice” for consumers. He said the combined company has more than 100 million subscribers. 

He said Warner Bros. Discovery has the assets to be a “fully scaled global streaming leader,” but he also reiterated that the company was “not trying to win the DTC spending war.”

Zaslav also said he was looking forward to the combined company’s upfront market, particularly by adding sports to Discovery and WarnerMedia's entertainment offerings. ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.