Discovery CEO heralds shift to ‘opportunistic’ sports-rights approach

David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery, has said that the US media company is keen on adding to its sports portfolio, and that it is “opportunistic” in using sport as a means to drive engagement.

“We are opportunistic in terms of looking at sport as a passionate brand where we can super serve people’s interest across the board, but … there’s a lot of stuff that we look at that we don’t think fits our metric of being able to provide long-term growth,” Zaslav said in a conference call on Tuesday to discuss Discovery’s financials.

Discovery signed a landmark deal last year with golf’s PGA Tour to create a new $2bn global over-the-top service known as GOLFTV. The company has also signed an agreement with Tiger Woods to create ancillary content for GOLFTV.

It also significantly increased its stake last month in digital sports media company Play Sports Group in a move that furthers its plans to create the world’s leading cycling media ecosystem.

Zaslav added: “In most of those cases, we bought sports assets that have a very long tail. In the case of the PGA, it’s through the end of 2030. In the case of the Olympics, we did it for a decade. In the case of cycling, we own the business.

“We don’t like doing business with these three-year type soccer deals, which we’re getting out of, and so I think we’re going to be opportunistic. We’re in the sports business. We may even be the leader in sports around the world when you aggregate all of our IP.”

Discovery’s golf and cycling platforms will provide the company with a better idea of how it can work with other sports organisations going forward, according to Zaslav.

“There’s a lot of sports where the federations are going to want to try and reach [around] the globe, but they’re not going to have the scale to build a platform. Our platform is built. They’re not going to have the scale to market in every country.

“We have multiple channels in every country and we have an online digital business in every country. We think once we build and we can prove out these ecosystems that we could be a platform that people come to where instead of paying for those rights, that we can represent those rights and get a split.”

Most recent

Amazon secured Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour rights in the UK for the 2020-23 cycle with a bid nearly 60 per cent higher than incumbent pay-television broadcaster BT Sport's current fee, SportBusiness Media understands, as the tech and ecommerce giant moves to establish a dominant position in UK tennis broadcasting.

The Italian competition authority’s investigation into the sale of rights for Serie A is ostensibly a disaster for MP & Silva and B4 and a let-off for IMG. But MP & Silva and B4 are no longer active and IMG could yet face a major problem. The agency could be hit with a substantial damages claim by the league for lost earnings.

Pay-television broadcaster All Media Baltics used its pan-regional competitive advantage to retain  English Premier League’s rights in the Baltics without a hefty increase in cost.

DAZN picks up Copa América at bargain price as rivals focus elsewhere DAZN, Sky, Mediaset bid for International Champions Cup Rai to share Women’s World Cup with Sky, show Uefa U21s exclusively Pr