The cable networks company has enough successful programming so “we don’t need to greenlight as many new swings,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav told investors at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom conference this morning. As a result “you’ll see meaningful moderation” in the growth rate for programming outlays. It won’t go down, he noted — but there’ll be “a significant leveling off.” That could be significant: Investors have been concerned about the company’s rising costs. Zaslav also likens his spending on programming to fishing. “We spend a little over $1B a year and little over half doesn’t come back” because the shows don’t work. Zaslav says that Discovery stepped up its game on TLC after The History Channel “took a real shot at us.” For example, his company used to air re-runs on Mondays, which gave History an opening to introduce Pawn Stars and American Pickers. “We weren’t looking at them; they were looking at us.” But now he’s looking at everybody, including producers. “We could look at the producers doing a good job for History and say, ‘Why aren’t we doing business with them?'” The competition also “solidified TLC’s focus on middle America…Because we know what we are, we’re finding more success.”
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