Discovery president and ceo David Zaslav used his interview at the biennial RTS Cambridge Convention to talk about Discovery’s ambition to tell stories that make an impact and to differentiate its unscripted offering.

Zaslav sits a top a multi-billion dollar content budget and in a market with the media behemoths now launching new services with mega budgets, he clarified that Discovery – as the only dedicated factual play in this space – is not interested in large scale buy-outs. “We want to be in niches that people are passionate about,” he said. “We will lean aside and let the rest of those guys have their way with each other.”

He described how Discovery is looking to tell stories with impact. “I was blown away by that final episode of Blue Planet talking about plastics,” he said. He cited Discovery’s multi-million pound 10-year content deal with BBC Studios, signed back in April this year, giving it OTT rights to natural history and science programming outside the UK. “Our ambition is to document the planet together and maybe we can have a meaningful impact,” he added.

 Zaslav introduced the session by playing a clip from the broadcaster’s upcoming six-part series, Why We Hate, produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions. He described how the series came about because Discovery can reach a billion people and really make a difference. “It was really Steven’s idea,” explained Zaslav. “I said to him, ‘What is the story you want to tell? What is the story [that will be your legacy] when you and I are gone?”

Discovery commissioning executives will be speaking at this year’s Televisual Factual Festival. Go to the Festival website https://www.televisual.com/festival/panelsessions.html  to find out more and to book tickets.

image credit – RTS/Richard Kendal

Pippa Considine