Discovery CEO on Comcast’s Time Warner Purchase: No Worries, Despite Downsides

Discovery ratings have been hit by Olympics

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Getty Images

Discovery Networks CEO David Zaslav told analysts he isn’t worried about consolidation in the cable industry — even if it impacts bargaining on carriage fees and advertising rates.

Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable popped up sporadically during a conference call Thursday, as the Discovery chief walked the Wall Street community through its latest quarterly earnings. There could be a downside to a lack of competition in the cable space, giving Comcast greater leverage when it comes time to renegotiate carriage deals and contracts, but Zaslav was optimistic.

“We’re going to stick to our knitting,” Zaslav said.

“This is a great time to be in the content business,” he added. “For us, if we have strong content with great characters and great stories, we’re convinced that we’ll do well.”

Also read: Discovery Revenue Rises for Q4, Full Year

The Discovery Networks CEO said he thought that Comcast’s investment in TV everywhere with its Xfinity TV app will help broaden the reach of its programing, allowing viewers to watch shows on multiple devices.

Zaslav was tight-lipped about how Comcast’s purchase of Time Warner Cable will impact its advertising rates and retransmission fees. Will existing deals with Time Warner Cable remain in place or will the terms the company has negotiated with Comcast take effect in certain markets?

“It depends on the contract,” Zaslav said.

His remarks came after Discovery posted quarterly earnings results that saw revenue climb 28 percent to $1.54 billion and net income rise 29 percent to $289 million.

Discovery, which counts OWN, TLC and Animal Planet, has seen ratings decline as viewers tune into the Winter Olympics.

“We expect a lot of people in America are going to be spending a lot more time with the Olympics,” Zaslav said. “When the Olympics end, we’re going to push hard to make sure those viewers come back.”