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David Zaslav, In Sun Valley, Sees Major Consolidation In Media Coming

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav expects media deals to pick up sharply, be it traditional M&A or streaming pacts, as the contours of the industry continue to evolve.

“I think probably over the next year or two you’re going to see some real consolidation, whether that happens from companies buying each other, or jointly going after streaming together,” he told CNBC as he arrived in Sun Valley, kerchief around his neck. Media and tech moguls, big investors and a handful of high-profile governors have gathered at the annual Allen & Co. conference in the Idaho ski town.   

Zaslav said he’s excited about two WBD ventures, a streaming bundle launching this summer with Disney+, Hulu and Max. And Venu, a sports streaming joint venture with Disney and Fox, set to debut in the fall. “It’s a really contemporary product, so there will be no channels, when you go on there you will be able to see all of the hockey, Nascar” and lots of other programming. “Between Fox, Warner Bros. and ESPN, we have about 75% of [all] sport.”

The company may soon have one less big sport — basketball — as TNT’s rights deal with the NBA looks set to head elsewhere. The league is just now said to have put the finishing touches on major deals with Disney, NBC and Amazon, leaving its longtime partner the option to match, or not.

On M&A, Paramount and Skydance clinched a merger, which is expected to pass regulators and close next year. But, generally, federal watchdogs have been pushing back on big deals, suing to block them, which makes potential buyers and sellers anxious to even try. Zaslav, asked at Sun Valley about the upcoming presidential election, told Bloomberg, “We just need an opportunity for deregulation, so companies can consolidate and do what we need to do to be even better.”


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