Streaming Discovery’s Self-Described ‘Experiences’ Could Affect Transport Discussions, Warns Charlie Ergen, Chairman of Dish – Deadline

Discovery’s self-described “experiences” with programming on the nascent streaming service Discovery + are one reason it quickly reached nearly 12 million direct-to-consumer subscribers.

The company released streaming totals – of which Discovery + makes up the bulk of it – as part of its fourth quarter earnings report. Discovery + launched Jan. 4 in the US and the $ 5 per month “ad-lite” service is being rolled out globally. Several large Discovery franchises on networks like TLC and HGTV have had new iterations in streaming, not linear. A joint venture with the BBC gave David Attenborough’s story A perfect planet.

Like other traditional media companies that continue to collect high fees from pay-TV operators, Discovery must follow a fine line in feeding Discovery + while retaining new programming for traditional networks. Asked about this balance during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts, CEO David Zaslav said, “We just experiment, we move it – we make it happen. But we still have a full commitment to the existing bundle. We are the packet. I mean, it’s basically the news, the sport, and us. “

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As for the prospect of moving more originals to streaming, Zaslav and other executives in the call pointed out the 55,000-hour streaming library and less success-oriented mindset than other subscription streaming players. . “The most popular shows,” Zaslav estimated, “represent less than 10% of what people watch.”

Charlie Ergen, chairman of Dish Network, who led Dish’s quarterly earnings call hours after Discovery, is closely monitoring Discovery + ‘s rollout. Ergen has long been known for his naked relationships with programmers and his willingness to ditch networks he doesn’t see fit to pay for (including HBO, which has been dark on Dish for over two years, as Ergen has noted during the call.)

“Discovery has great content and we have a long-term relationship with them,” Ergen said. “But of course, as far as you can get it on a à la carte basis, this will affect future negotiations. Many of our customers don’t watch Discovery. Should we charge every Discovery customer if they can get it elsewhere? … It’s just economics. It is not rocket science. “

Asked by Morgan Stanley’s Ben Swinburne whether he feels “optimistic or comfortable putting his best IP on D-to-C versus linear,” Zaslav replied, “I wouldn’t say ‘better. “. I would say “different”. “

Traditional network activity remains at the heart of Discovery’s strategic thinking, he stressed. “He’s still a great role model,” he says. “And we think it’s going to last for a while. It is also an excellent feeder. So people who watch our cable channels buy [streaming] product.”

Discovery learned a lot from its early weeks in streaming gaming, Zaslav said. Based on early customer feedback, he explained, Discovery + “is a service that people can look at in two ways. First, while they’re cooking, they can – we’ve added a feature where you can – almost like a synthetic chain, where if you like Upper Fixator and you like the Property Brothers and you like Guy Fieri, you can just put that in the app. And that’s what will work all day. And so on the one hand you might really want to watch Attenborough or this great crime documentary where Ina Garten does a great show with Melissa McCarthy.

At many subscription streaming outlets, he said, the programming is “there for the intent, where you have an intent to view fully targeted.” Discovery has some of those titles, he said, “but we also have this ability to be a companion.” The latter function, he said, is crucial in strengthening relationships with advertisers, of whom around 100 have already saved time on Discovery +.

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