David Zaslav Says Chip and Joanna Gaines’ HGTV Exit ‘Sucked All the Air Out of My Lungs’

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the two of them,” Discovery CEO says

Fixer Upper

Major media-corporation CEOs: They’re just like us! Discovery boss David Zaslav said Monday that when “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines exited HGTV, it “sucked all of the air out of my lungs.”

“We can’t forget that in the content business we’re really about stories and people. That’s what [viewers] tune in for. That’s why, a month before we closed, when Chip and Joanna Gaines left HGTV — it sucked all the air out of my lungs,” Zaslav said this morning at the 46th UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “I couldn’t take my eyes off the two of them.”

He continued: “They’re great characters, people love them, they want to watch them, they want to know how they’re doing, they love their taste, they built a billion-dollar business with Magnolia, they’re like one of the Top 5 tourist sites in America — in Waco — but they’re not in our family anymore.”

“I went to Waco multiple times because that’s the business that we’re in,” Zaslav said.

Fortunately, those trips got them back in the family. After negotiating directly with Zaslav, the Gaines are partnering with Discovery, Inc. to launch their own TV network, which will include a linear platform.

The way cable TV generally works, Discovery will either have to buy another existing network or rebrand one of its own. Logically, the latter is the most likely play here. After acquiring Scripps earlier this year, Discovery is now the proud home of 19 cable channels: Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Velocity, Science Channel, DIY, Cooking Channel, Discovery Family, American Heroes Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, Great American Country, and Spanish-language channels Discovery en Espanol and Familia Discovery.