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Discovery and Nat Geo demand more from international

Factual content specialists Discovery and Nat Geo have reorganised their operations with a view to maximising profits from international markets and from digital services.

Discovery Communications wants to generate half of all revenues from its international businesses in the next few years. President and CEO David Zaslav says the company wants the proportion of sales from international to increase from about a third, to a half of all sales.

"Our content translates very well around the world and that gives us great leverage," said Zaslav, who joined Discovery from NBC in January. "My hope is that five years from now 50% of revenues will come from outside of the US and I think that’s attainable."

Under Zaslav’s leadership Discovery has restructured its domestic and international operations. The company’s revenues have been climbing steadily but the profit margins have slipped. Zaslav has introduced a series of measures to boost margins and has pledged any cost savings would be to the benefit of the programming line-up.

Speaking to TBIvision about the restructuring, Zaslav said: "We have done a lot of the heavy lifting, we have asked what business are we in and what businesses should we be in and we have started to move on. Our first focus is putting more money into programming and brands."

Like Discovery, Nat Geo focuses on knowledge-based content although its TV channels operation is smaller in size and narrower in focus. It has also reorganised its operations in recent weeks and created a Global Media Group, which encompasses publishing, TV, film, music, radio, and maps divisions.

"We had been thinking about [reorganizing] for a little time but once we’d made the decision we did it pretty quickly. We have got rid of the silo mentality," Tim Kelly, president of the new Global Media Group, told TBIvision. "It allows us to look at ourselves a little differently and not to be so focused on individual operating units." He added: "Publishing is still our number one revenue driver but it’s clear there is going to be a lot of growth in cable channels and digital media."