The winners of the streaming wars might be decided in 1-2 years
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According to David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, it won’t take long to separate the streaming haves from the have nots.
“It will be turned on or off for all of us in the next two years,” Zaslav told CNBC’s “A View from the Top”.
Zaslav said he is expecting the toughest competition from streaming services, which are mostly focused on script series for the US audience. Apple TV +, HBO Max from AT&T, Peacock from Comcast, Paramount + from ViacomCBS, and AMC Plus from AMC Networks are among the recently launched streaming services competing for eyeballs.
Zaslav said he expected Netflix and Disney to emerge as global streaming winners given the leads they have built. In addition, only one or two other services focused on script series and films could reach the global size required to compete, he said. The others must either join forces through mergers or partnerships, he said.
“Will there be three? Will there be four? There won’t be seven,” said Zaslav. “There has to be some consolidation.”
Discovery unveiled its scriptless streaming service Discovery + last week. The service starts on January 4, 2021 with 55,000 episodes from more than 2,500 shows and includes 50 new original series.
Zaslav’s goal is to make Discovery + the third largest global streaming service after Netflix and Disney, he said. Unlike other US-based media companies, Discovery already has content in local language in many European countries. He says the company’s emphasis on international programs like Eurosport over the years could lead other major media companies to view Discovery as a significant merger partner or acquisition target.
“They will probably all take a look at us and go, holy cow, and look at all the content of the national language that they have received around the world,” said Zaslav. “Then maybe some of them will say, ‘You know what? Maybe we should just get in touch with you in Europe or Latin America. It will take us three years to get there. Maybe we should find a way to get there. ” become a part of you. ‘”
While Discovery is entering the streaming wars relatively late in the game, Zaslav believes that increased video viewing during the pandemic will help consumers view Discovery + as a “fresh” addition. However, unlike Disney, AT & T’s WarnerMedia, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, it didn’t give investors a specific target number of subscribers they could expect by 2024.
“We don’t know exactly what the number is,” said Zaslav. “We don’t want to define what’s big. We’ll report quarterly how many subscribers we have. We have a lot of trust. We put our entire company behind it. But we’ll see.” We think we’re going to surprise people. But we didn’t think it was a good idea to say that in five years we will be in 100 million households. Let’s see how we are. “
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WATCH: David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, gives an insight into the future of streaming