Discovery Channel's global strategy takes it to the top of ratings CEO David Zaslev explains why he is glad to be welcoming Oprah to the world of the subscription market
In June 1985, the Discovery Channel launched in the US. It had only 156,000 subscribers and no original programmes. This month, Discovery Communications celebrated its 25th anniversary – now the world's number one non-fiction media company, with 1.5bn subscribers in 170 countries. The secret to its success, says its president and CEO David Zaslav, is simple. "Discovery at its core, as a company, and the Discovery Channel itself, is really about quality content that satisfies curiosity," says Zaslav. "That is our niche, that's what we do best. It sounds like a simple phrase but it really is what differentiates us from a number of other media companies." Zaslav has been in charge at Discovery since the beginning of 2007. During his time he has focussed on three important issues; developing Discovery's programme content - building its library of programmes; consolidating the US channels, as well as building its international business. "When Discovery is at its best, when we do programmes like Deadliest Catch, that series works everywhere around the world," says Zaslav. "That's economic leverage, so we really try to lean into that. When we invest in content, our focus is also to create something that will have some real shelf life "we're building a library." Zaslav says that his company has benefited from being an almost entirely "pure-play" cable television company, with revenues from subscribers as well as advertising "About 95pc of our company is in the cable dual-revenue stream. We're not in a lot of the other areas of media that are facing more challenges both technological and competitive," says Zaslav. "About 50pc of our revenue is subscriber revenue from Pay-TV platform providers such as SKY and Star, which gives us some real stability – usually three- to five-year deals, locked in."...
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