AMSTERDAM -- Making the shift from a primarily cable network to a provider of multiscreen experiences, often directly to viewers over the top, has been a new challenge for Discovery Networks International, the Europe-based wing of Discovery Communications. That's according to its president, JB Perrette, speaking at an opening keynote session at IBC.
"We are nimbly moving in a changing landscape ... we have been, as most of the industry is, a B2B business," Perrette said. "Starting to build that B2C capability is not a small task."
At the same time, Discovery is still a linear television network and the bulk of its audience is still the lean-back kind.
Perrette said that the business model had to change at several different levels of the company, from marketing and customer acquisition, to the technical challenge of implementing different platform capabilities for multifeed services, enhanced core and other components necessary to provide IP-based video services directly to consumers.
The result is paying off in its recently inked deal with Eurosport to provide Olympics coverage across the continent for eight years, from 2018 to 2024. Discovery will provide a holistic package of pay-TV, free-to-air and OTT programming for the Games.
"We as a company are seven years in to getting that expertise, and getting that for Eurosport is a big deal," he said. "We are 100 percent excited and committed to the fact that it will have more reach than anything else we've done."
Discovery is bringing a good amount of sports coverage onto its channels lately: For example, it's broadcasting the U.S. Open in Europe and has made all eight courts available to view on its TV Everywhere app.
But ultimately, to stay profitable the network has to maintain a balance between its different offerings. Perrette said that having shareholders who believe in long-term value creation, rather than reacting to quarter-by-quarter fluctuations, has been helpful. "We're not looking at trying to fine tune and make the best third or fourth quarter; we're looking to build a long term media giant."
However, Perrette said Discovery is focused on "telling great stories" and providing unique content. The network is continually seeking out partners to help it develop its IP delivery infrastructure, so it can concentrate on its programming.
"We are a content company. We don't define ourselves as a TV company. At end of day we're a sight, sound and motion company. We tell stories."
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