Discovery international chief JB Perette has warned that the U.S cable giant is “not trying to be the supermarket” in a wide-ranging chat that also covered the company’s sports strategy and opportunities in virtual reality and eSports.
Perette, who is President and CEO of Discovery Networks International, said that the company was focused on being the “leaders in passionate verticals around enthusiast communities” and highlighted services such as Motor Trend On Demand.
“We’re not trying to be the supermarket where you can have a little bit of everything,” he said.
He becomes the second high-profile media exec this week to use a shopping analogy to describe his business after AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said earlier this week that HBO is “the Tiffany” to Netflix’s Walmart.
Speaking at the technology conference IBC in Amsterdam, he said that Discovery would move further into the sports world, having unveiled a $2B, 12-year deal to cover PGA Tour Golf outside of the U.S. “We have a set [of sports] that we want to go deeper in. We want to try and see how we can do more in that space. Over time, there will be more. There’s a lot of things we’re looking at,” he said.
Perette also took a subtle swipe at the emergence of digital players such as Amazon and Facebook in the sports space, questioning whether it was a long-term strategy or a short-term marketing plot.
“There’s a lot of talk about them entering the space and they are experimenting, these are very smart companies and the sports space is not for the faint of heart. Are they long term players or are they using it for marketing? There’s not surprising you’ve seen them focus on sports in Asia. There’s a question for federations, are they interested for long term strategy or marketing.”
The former NBC Universal exec also took on VR, AR and eSports in the conversation with British presenter Edith Bowman. He admitted that it was looking more at AR than VR, having got relatively burnt over its aggressive move into 3D.
“We’ve tried to lead in the VR space with Discovery channels and sports brand. I think it’s going to take time. We were a very early adopter in 3D because our DNA is about trying to be innovative and it turned out that 3D went nowhere. That’s ok. We’re going to keep swinging. VR seems like it’s more on the 3D track. We think AR is more interesting. We’re focused on playing in both but see more progress on AR, particularly from the production space.”
He also admitted that the company was looking to get into gaming and eSports.
“We continue to look, the eSports space is massive, so that’s an area that is incredibly interested and there may be opportunities there. The issue is to figure out how a company like ours plays in that space.”
Finally, Perette dodged a question about whether Discovery, which co-owns British superindie All3Media with Liberty Global, was bidding to buy Endemol Shine. His comments came hours after BBC Studios boss Tim Davie told the same conference that the British company was not interested in the Black Mirror and MasterChef producer.
“It’s a great company and we have a lot of respect for them. I wouldn’t comment. What it’s worth I don’t know. We don’t really comment on what we’re looking at or not looking at,” he said.