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David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications, has said that the broadcaster’s pending acquisition of a controlling interest in pan-European sports channel Eurosport has given it the opportunity to create a bigger and better service, and admitted that it will consider acquiring premium sports rights.
Speaking at the FT Digital Media Conference in London, Zaslav said that Discovery now had the ability to go “deep and agressive” in a particular market. Noting that many of Eurosport’s rights were locked in for a number of years (tennis, cycling, winter sports) he suggested that Discovery could get a lot more value out of the channel by making it “local”.
He said that Discovery would be “careful and thoughtful” as to which rights it targeted in the future, and admitted that it could partner with other players in acquiring rights. “We’ll be keen to look at what’s available.” Describing Eurosport as a “great brand” he said it could emerge as a premier sports brand.
Asked about premier sports rights such as the EPL, Zaslv said: “We have a real advantage keeping the costs of second level sports manageable. The question is do we go up a level. In some cases taking a big swing might make sense to do in a joint bidding. In some cases might make sense to leave bigger high end sports to big broadcasters. We’ll just have to see.”
He had no comment on Discovery’s bid for Channel 5 other than to hint the vendor’s lofty £700 million valuation meant any deal was unlikely.