Zaslav Holds To Growth Plan At Discovery

As Discovery Communications moves closer to going public, CEO David Zaslav laid out goals Wednesday for his second year on the job that largely mirror his first: upgrading programming, building more robust brands and bolstering the company's six networks, which reach between 50 and 70 million homes.

The last goal may be the most closely watched. Among those channels are two that will undergo high-profile reinventions, with the creation of Planet Green in June and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) next year.

Those networks will carry some of the new original series and specials--more than 200--that Discovery will launch over the next year, Zaslav said at an upfront presentation.

All of Discovery networks' brands, he said, will also be exploited on multiple platforms as the company looks to keep pace with the digital revolution (, for example, will be linked with OWN).

"We want to own curiosity on TV and on all platforms," he told the roomful of advertisers, while calling Discovery "no longer a cable company, (but) a content company."



Winfrey appeared on tape at the presentation with a direct appeal for advertisers to invest in OWN, where she said the aim is to offer programming that breeds the type of inspiration and empowerment that her daily show does. It will look to "do everything that we did on the 'Oprah' show," she said.

The much-discussed Planet Green aims to attract the burgeoning number of advertisers promoting their efforts to either be more environmentally friendly themselves or sell products in that vein. Much of the network's programming has been unveiled before; it includes a cooking show with Emeril Lagasse, a lifestyle show with "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier, a series with musicians Ludacris and Tommy Lee, and specials with Tom Brokaw.

The flagship Discovery network is launching a special event this season that focuses on the Iditarod as well as "Inside Planet Earth."

Also, TLC has a deal with Jennifer Lopez, who will star in a reality series that chronicles how she melds her business interests with being a new mom. And it has reached a development deal with Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos, which gives TLC a first look at all new reality projects from their production company. Ripa will also a host a show on the network.

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