18 May David Zaslav, Defender of the Cable Bundle, Is Ready to Bundle Max with Other Streamers [IndieWire]
May 18, 2023 | For decades, the cable-television bundle had a staunch defender in David Zaslav, the Warner Bros. Discovery president and CEO who first oversaw NBCUniversal’s portfolio before doing the same thing at Discovery. Well, we’re beyond the heyday of skinny bundles of cable channels, but Zaslav is ready to apply the same logic to streaming — and no, we’re not just talking about combining HBO Max and Discovery+ in Max, WBD’s new app that launches Tuesday. The question becomes: Are Zaslav’s competitors ready to join forces with him, or will they slowly let the technology companies do it to them?
At Thursday’s SVB MoffettNathanson conference, Zaslav cited “one of the challenges in the business right now” as consumer confusion about where to find “the content that they love.” It makes for both a bad user experience, something HBO Max knows all about, and is just plain bad business, he argued.
“Everyone is Googling ‘Where is it?’ How do I get it?’” Zaslav said at the research company’s inaugural Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. “It’s not rational, and it’s not really sustainable.”
Also not rational is to fix the issue through a further consolidation of media companies, Zaslav said — that would take too long and and come with too many regulatory hurdles. He should know: the WarnerMedia and Discovery, Inc. merger closed about a year after the first reports of negotiations, and that was considered quick. (Still, it’s a pretty convenient opinion to have about a year removed from his own mega-merger, but we digress.)