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Mipcom: Discovery, Snap Team on Olympics Winter Games

Discovery Communications president-CEODavid Zaslav, Mipcom’s Personality of the Year delivers a Mipcom keynote on the primacy of global IP ownership

David Zaslav CEO Discovery Communications
AP Images for Discovery Communications

CANNES — In the latest link-up between Discovery Communications and Snap, Discovery-owned Eurosport is teaming with Snap to offer original Olympic Winter Games video content to Snapchatters – and access to the Snapchatter generation of younger digitally-minded communities to advertisers buying into Snap Ad packages.

The Eurosport content will cut two ways:   Daily “Our Stories,” featuring Snaps submitted by Snapchatters and “Publisher Stories,” magazine- like stories produced by media publishers. Both will be curated by Europsport and dedicated to the Winter Olympics.

Announced Wednesday at Mipcom, the deal is a text book case of two strategic concern voiced by Discovery Communications’ president-CEO David Zaslav who is being honored as this week’s 2017 Mipcom trade fair as the Mipcom Personality of the Year.

Zaslav was interviewed on stage by a tremendously unflustered Lionsgate CEO John Feltheimer, who paraphrased Jeffrey Katzenberg’s conmment that platforms, not content is king but content is the kingmaker.

Questioned by Feltheimer about the impact of digital disruption, Zaslav agreed: “Our vision is owning global IP. We own all of our content on all platforms, the only exception to that is Eurosport and we own all our sports content on all platforms but in Europe.”

He added: Whether it’s Facebook or Apple or Google or Vodaphone or Deutsche Telecom, those companies are effectively platform or pipe companies. Not to be pejorative but more and more you see they need something to differentiate them.” That something is content, Zaslav argued.

“Discovery Communications business is still relatively stable, as it claims. But clearly it’s in decline.  Discovery is now re-engineering for the future by controlling everything that it shows. As Netflix and Amazon have shown with drama, you cannot go global on new media platforms – Snapchat, Twitter – without owning global IP,” said Guy Bisson, at Ampere Analysis.

Wednesday’s Discovery-Snap Olympics Winter Games accord was talked up by Zaslav as a means to reach vital youth audiences.

Discovery Communications 2016 revenues gre 2% to $6.497 billion. Net income increased 15% to $1,194 million.

“Our existing business is still very healthy. We used to grow in the mid-teens now we grow in the mid single digits. What we have to do now, which is very hard, is do a better job in terms of programming our existing channels. Then we need to figure out how to get onto every device, and how to get the millennial audience,” Zaslav said.

He went on: “We have so far invested a lot of money and developed a strong competency in short for content, and to build a big millennial audience.

“Everyone is interested in Snap because of its particular skew to the 18-24 age group. The way you condense stories on Snapchat is very different from other platforms. No one has a cracked that yet,” Bisson observed.

Zaslav’s preoccupation with the 18-24 demography also helps explain Discovery’s purchase of Scripps.

“Scripps in particular could have content which would be very popular in that concentrated very short form. It is also a way of getting in with that audience which is absolutely essential,” said Bisson.

Zaslav also painted a bigger picture. “Scripps owns all of its content. Whether it’s cooking, HDTV, travel, they own all of that. A lot hasn’t been taken around the world so we can move it to our women’s channel or launch channels around the world using their extensive library.”

Beyond this, “we also think we have a unique opportunity. When we close on that deal, we will be the largest global media IP company in the world. The only other company that has global IP is Disney,” Zaslav said.

He added: “Facebook, Apple reach everywhere in the world so if Apple wanted to do one deal and put together a package of family content  and make it available in 60 languages and everywhere in the world, we are the only place.”

“We believe that as these platforms get bigger, that owning the content and being able to sell it up the value chain will bring us huge value,” Zaslav concluded.