Discovery chief says IPTV “commoditises” content

RTS: The head of Discovery Communications, the biggest global non-fiction broadcaster, says the TV industry needs to work with new online viewing platforms, like Google TV to ensure their content does not become commoditised.

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David Zaslav, Discovery’s president and CEO, said at the Royal Television Society’s convention in Cambridge that although the broadcaster is “channel agnostic”, it is still fighting to protect its brand when its content is distributed online.

“We need to force the issue of ’do people know that when they are watching [Discovery-owned series] Deadliest Catch, that it is ours,” he said.

Zaslav also bemoaned the stronghold Apple has on the TV industry, saying that broadcasters, networks and content owners “didn’t win the branding war or the war for value”.

He added: “With TV content on Apple you don’t see brands, you see a list – I call it ’super a la carte’. If you become a list of shows, you become commoditised.”

Zaslav said that “enormous value” can be gained from selling content to companies such as Netflix, Hulu, Samsung Smart TV and Google TV, despite some setbacks.

“New players are not going for new content. We have the ability to sell content that is up to 18 months old, which doesn’t interfere with our creative and adds to our revenue [so you don’t need to sell advertising against it].”

Discovery Communications is made revenues of close to $4bn (c.£2.54bn) last year. Its channels in the UK include the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

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