Discovery Inc.’s recent deals putting its channels on streaming TV services Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV will be big contributors to Discovery’s audience totals.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav spoke today at a UBS investor conference and said those launches, which include about five or six channels, will contribute approximately 4 million subscribers. He said that the launches will provide a boost in terms of ad revenue and viewership growth.
“When we’re on skinnier bundles or over-the-top platforms, we tend to do a lot better. We see that everywhere in the world,” Zaslav said. He also said that Discovery is currently working with Nielsen to make sure it receives the full ratings value including the audiences across vMVPDs.
Discovery’s channels are on many of the major U.S. virtual MVPDs except for YouTube TV. But Zaslav said that Discovery is hopeful it will eventually land on YouTube TV, and he pointed out that Discovery doesn’t have any major affiliate renewals coming up in the near term.
Despite new distribution deals for Discovery networks, Zaslav said that Discovery Channel ratings have been down recently. He blamed the ratings declines during the third quarter in part on production issues with “Fast N’ Loud” which will delay the show’s return until 2019.
“There was some softness at Discovery and we need to get at that,” Zaslav said, adding that Discovery’s other networks including the channels it recently acquired from Scripps are doing well.
According to a UBS research note, Discovery said it remains confident in its $600 million synergy target for the Scripps integration and that it’s now focused on increasing its target and realizing synergies sooner.