Discovery Inc. will see ad sales dip 10% or less in the current third quarter, an improvement from a 14% drop in the previous three months as the U.S. ad market slowly emerges from a COVID slump, said CEO David Zaslav.
Internationally, he told investors at the Goldman Sachs media conference to expect strengthening 3Q ad revenue as well, down “low double digits with a trajectory that feels quite positive.” He said Latin America is still a big challenge but several big European markets are showing muscle.
Discovery reports earning for the September quarter on Nov. 5. The next crop of numbers and commentary from media and entertainment companies will be key in assessing the ongoing impact of the pandemic as the country reopens.
Discovery just wrapped its upfront and “will surprise on the upside,” Zaslav said, giving no details. “In general, people will be up or down in the low single digits — we will be better that,” he said.
He called the company’s 18-channel U.S. lineup, including Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, a “bargain” – as in “we don’t get paid that much” after “sports and retrans have taken most of the money.” He said its economics are improving some as video providers acknowledge the net’s ability to provide fresh unscripted content, at low cost and throughout the pandemic.
Alternatives like skinny bundles “are not so skinny,” unfortunately, he said. Cord cutting has accelerated plans for a DTC offering, details of which Zaslav has been promising will be unveiled soon. He believes the allure of unscripted fare that can be a companion in the kitchen or “while home schooling your kids” will differentiate Discovery’s offering from broad based services like Netflix and make it a popular add-on.
“We’ll be back soon with how we’re going to do it and who is going to help us,” he said.