David Zaslav isn’t ready to commit just yet to the plan that Dish Network and Disney sketched last week to create a personal pay TV streaming service with most — but not all — of the leading channels. “The question is: what’s the legacy impact?” the Discovery CEO said today at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference. “Does it have a negative impact?” Still, Zaslav sounds intrigued, saying that there’s a potentially big business if Dish or others can sell pay TV services to 2M or more broadband customers — including many young adults who are reluctant to pay $80 a month or more for a full expanded basic pay TV bundle. Dish’s deal with Disney “provided a lot of value to Disney” in the short run. But Zaslav says that he takes a long term view of the business and “we just have to see” the details and implications of a personal streaming service. The CEO also isn’t ready yet to pass judgment on Comcast’s planned $45.2B acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The deal would give Comcast about 30M video subscribers. That’s “significant market share,” he says. “We’ll have to see what it means and how it plays out.” Zaslav has good reason to stay on the sidelines: Liberty Media’s John Malone is the biggest shareholder in Discovery, as well as Charter Communications — which wanted TWC until Comcast came in with a higher bid. Malone recently gave Zaslav a big vote of confidence by agreeing to give the Discovery CEO first dibs on his shares if he ever sells. “The deal that John structured with me is one that I hope never takes effect,” Zaslav says. “If we’re sitting here in 15 years and John is engaged the way he is now, that’s the best thing.”
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