Warner Bros. Discovery Faces Mountain of Debt on ‘Road to Profitability’

As the media giant prepares to report fourth-quarter earnings, CEO David Zaslav has to prove he can cut costs and squeeze more money out of every show

David Zaslav used to charm Wall Street. Now he’s running a debt-laden media company that one observer described as a “dumpster fire.” Just how hot things are getting for the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO will become clear after it reports fourth-quarter earnings Thursday — Zaslav’s third outing as the combined company’s chief.

The competitive pressure to scale up and compete with Netflix’s ballooning content budget drove AT&T to spin off WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery, creating a film and TV giant with a bulked-up streaming library. But even as the deal got done last year investors were already changing their tune. Profitability, not growth or scale, is the watchword now.

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Lucas Manfredi

Lucas Manfredi is a TV Business reporter with TheWrap. He has a Bachelor of Science in Television-Radio from Ithaca College. He can be reached at lucas.manfredi@thewrap.com.