In May 2020 Discovery CEO David Zaslav used the Q1 2020 earnings call to argue the pandemic had proven that the cable bundle “is a huge subsidy that's being paid for sports”. He hoped that cord-cutting during the pandemic “might put pressure on some of these big sports players that are bundling and forcing and leveraging and jamming, to say even in this moment, 'All right. Enough. Go ahead. And I'll give you more flexibility to give America what they want, a chance to buy a multi-channel and broadcast package without stuffed sports.'"
It is worth revisiting this quote after the first Q1 2022 earnings call for Warner Bros. Discovery, where Zaslav told investors, “We now have the same or in many cases, the largest reach on television in the US.” So, going off of his 2020 comments, it would seem like the next logical objective for Warner Bros. Discovery would be to leverage its scale to drive this alternative bundle into the marketplace.
It is also worth revisiting it after Sinclair Broadcasting’s recently announced deal with Charter for continued distribution of its Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), and soon-to-be-launched Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) service. There has been ongoing speculation that Sinclair’s $9B bet on RSNs will fail, and this deal went a long way to quash that speculation. But, it also may have quashed Zaslav’s vision for a tighter bundle for consumers at a time when Warner Bros. Discovery has maximum leverage to deliver one.