Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is the “new media mogul who is tearing up Hollywood”, according to an article this week from The Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint.
It’s the latest take on what former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar told The Wrap is “a smaller fish consuming a much larger fish.” And that was effectively the gist of Flint’s story: the cost-conscious, cash flow-obsessed small fish of Discovery management who “isn’t afraid to ruffle the industry’s elite” as they rein in spending.
Flint highlights the strengths of Zaslav’s focus on financial discipline and how he is “a master communicator when it comes to talent”. But, he also highlights its downsides: Zaslav and his team are aggressively pursuing financial discipline while still on a learning curve about the business and the culture of the scripted world.
I think the not-so-implicit angle of the piece is that by focusing so relentlessly on cost-cutting - and by taking a scorched earth approach to what Kilar and his team built before - Zaslav may already be making the types of mistakes that will sink his Hollywood ambitions early.
There may be truth to that, but it has only been one month since the deal officially closed.
A more favorable angle to Zaslav’s ruthless cost-cutting back can be found in my essay Why YouTube Sees Hollywood’s Future in the Creator Economy: Are Zaslav and his team solving for economics, or are they solving for the more existential challenge of Warner Bros. Discovery's competition increasingly coming from YouTube creators?
I asked at the end: “what happens when inelastic demand suddenly displays elasticity because investors no longer buy into the ...