David Zaslav will lead a new combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery, the latest example of consolidation in the media and entertainment industry as the rise of video streaming continues to upend the entire sector.
Zaslav was named CEO of the new company Monday, part of a surprising move by AT&T and Discovery to pool their media resources and make a bid to compete more directly with large rivals like Netflix, Walt Disney and NBCUniversal.
Zaslav has led Discovery since 2007 and his relentless business focus has kept the company competitive though it is smaller in scale than several of its rivals. Now he will have a broader portfolio of resources as his company and AT&T form a joint venture that will marry his company’s TLC with Warner’s TNT and TBS; the flagship Discovery Channel with Warner’s DC Comics characters; and lifestyle-focused Food Network with programs that include “The Flight Attendant” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”
The new marriage marks an abrupt turnaround for AT&T, which is jettisoning its Warner assets after slightly less than three years of operating them — slightly longer than the merger of AOL and Time Warner, another vaunted media combination that foundered as a downturn in advertising undercut the rationale for the two companies’ decision to join in 2001. Now Zaslav must restructure the companies on the fly, just as the media industry enters its annual “upfront,” a period when TV companies try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory for their next cycle or programming.
More to come…