NATPE 2010: Discovery's Zaslav Only Teases OWN

Meanwhile, Discovery focused on 3D, social media, international
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NATPE 2010: Complete Coverage From B&C

Discovery Chief David Zaslav wouldn't reveal much about OWN's programming plans, the new cable network Discovery is creating with Oprah Winfrey, but a new promo reel gave NATPE's Monday morning keynote audience a good feel for what the new network will be all about.

The new net's tagline is the Oprah-inspired, "it's your life ... own it."

"This network is not called Oprah, it's called OWN - it's about owning your challenges, your relationships, and moving forward in a positive way," said Zaslav, in a Q&A session with moderator, Variety's Brian Lowry.

"There is nobody that's in this Oprah space, the ‘Live Your Best Life tools for your life' space. Oprah is not just a great brand, but she's a great creative, she's incredible at finding talent, and she's a great talent for this mission, which is really her mission in life."

As Discovery has previously said, more details about OWN's programming plans will be forthcoming at this spring's upfronts.

Meanwhile, Zaslav was quite chatty about Discovery's plans to launch a 3D network in partnership with Sony and Imax, which were first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January.

"The way technology works, unfortunately, you have to place your bets before all the evidence is in. We had to spend a lot of money on HD because we believed," said Zaslav. "The fact that the motion picture business is finding significant advantages in 3D is really an indicator. If people like to consume in motion picture format, then it makes sense to push to put great new sets in the home. That's what we leaned into in making this bet. When Avatar hits in the home, when 3D DVDs arrive in the home, I think that will be a driver. We'll see how quickly it works out. It is significant."

Discovery also is focused on new growth areas, specifically social media and international markets.

The company's stars and producers are encouraged to be out on Twitter and Facebook, engaging viewers in their content. Online, the company is focused on short-form video and social networking. "We have been very aggressive about saying you can build your market share on all those platforms," says Zaslav. "We don't think the answer on most of those platforms is long-form. "If it is, we need to get paid for it."

"International is key to growth," said Zaslav. "As I look at our company, three years ago we made about $100 million in outstanding cash flow outside the U.S. This year, we'll make more than four times that. As we all know, the domestic market is slowing. We're not getting 10-15% growth in subs and viewership every year. Much of the world is like the U.S. ten years ago, and we all know that this was a great business in the U.S. ten years ago.

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