Discovery CEO: We ‘have to’ launch a big streaming video service

Food Network Kitchen
As Discovery ponders the launch of a big, aggregated streaming service, the company is introducing niche offerings like Food Network Kitchen. (Discovery Inc.)

It might not happen in 2020 but eventually Discovery Inc. will launch a big streaming video service that includes content from all its brands.

At a Citi investor conference today, CEO David Zaslav said his company is still performing well on traditional cable and pay TV platforms but that the business can’t continue growing without expanding. He said the cable business is still growing outside the U.S. but that overall viewership is declining.

“If we want to win in the long-term – and we have this great IP that people love that’s curated through great brands and characters that people love – we have to take that out,” Zaslav said.

He said that launching a streaming service that pulls from all of Discovery Inc.’s brands – which include Discovery Channel, TLC, Food Network and HGTV – will require getting traditional TV providers on board with their plans. He said that Discovery is in “meaningful discussions” with existing distributors.

RELATED: Discovery plots big new streaming video service in U.S.

“Our view is we should figure out how to make them partners. Charter is a great company. They have 10 to 11 million broadband-only subscribers. Comcast is an extraordinarily well-run company. They’re serving and nourishing their customers. Today, they agreed that they will offer CBS All Access… That’s a very positive step forward.”

With other major programmers like Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia aggregating their content into high-profile streaming brands, the timing seems appropriate for Discovery to do the same.

Zaslav’s comments today echo statements he made about launching an aggregated streaming platform last year during the company’s most recent earnings call.

“More to come on that in the next several months, but it feels very good to us right now in terms of our niche strategy with passion and depth, view and do, our strategy in Europe of aligning with the other big players…,” said Zaslav. “And finally, with all the success we’re having here in the U.S., we’re saying ‘Hey, maybe why not? It looks like we have the most compelling content and the deepest library of anybody.’”

Discovery recently launched Food Network Kitchen, a streaming service that combines library content with live cooking classes along with interactive and e-commerce features.