Entertainment & Arts

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav Talks Streaming, Upfronts & More In First Post-Merger Earnings Call: “We Will Not Overspend”

In Warner Bros Discovery’s first earnings call with Wall Street analysts, CEO David Zaslav re-emphasized his plan to take a prudent approach to streaming as he guides the newly merged company.

“Our goal is to maximize long-term shareholder value and asset value, not just subs,” he said. “We will not overspend to drive subscribers.”

The comments follow his earlier pronouncement that the company will not “try to win the spending wars” in streaming. Netflix, which is shelling out $20 billion this year for content, is suddenly on the back foot despite leading the field, due to subscriber losses and new questions about its business model. Warner Bros. Discovery is staking out a more moderate path with its twin services, HBO Max and Discovery+, which will soon be combined in a single offering.

Zaslav also highlighted the company’s plan for its May 18 upfront, which will be the new company’s coming-out party for advertisers. The portfolio of networks, spanning scripted, unscripted, news, sports and lifestyle, give the company “a unique hand,” Zaslav said.

Prior to the call, Warner Bros Discovery announced results for the first quarter but only for Discovery, given that the combination with WarnerMedia did not close until after the end of the March 31 quarter. Total revenue increased 13% to $3.16 billion, with U.S. advertising revenue up 5% and distribution revenue up 11%.

The company’s earnings release said ad revenue increased thanks to the “continued monetization of content offerings on our next generation initiatives.” Offsetting the upswing was a factor that will shadow the new company and its sprawling array of legacy assets: “secular declines in the pay-TV ecosystem and lower overall ratings.”


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