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Data to help Discovery decision process, CEO says

Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav appears in an undated photograph. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

The top executive at the combined Warner Bros Discovery says data will help guide the company’s decision process over the long term.

In a memo circulated to employees at the company and widely reported by industry trade publications on Monday, Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said those data-driven decisions combined with an environment of collaboration across departments will “enable us to achieve a more-efficient and impactful organization and a stronger business overall.”

The proclamation comes as Warner Bros Discovery has started cutting headcount and production across the board. Shortly after Discovery closed on its merger with WarnerMedia last month, executives moved to kill CNN Plus, a streaming-only news service that franchised the world-recognized cable news brand. Hundreds of employees hired to oversee CNN Plus were told they’d have an opportunity to find work in other parts of the company, though many later found out they’d be let go.

The same week CNN Plus was shut down, Warner Bros Discovery executives decided to slash the output of original content at two of its newly-acquired cable properties: The drama-centric TNT and comedy network TBS.

On Monday, Zaslav said the company had yet to make some other big moves, including a combination of its HBO Max and Discovery Plus streaming services.

“While it will take time, it will ultimately be a game-changer as no one else has a content offering as vast, comprehensive and exciting as ours will be,” Zaslav said of the plan.

At CNN, new leadership will help bolster the global news brand as a source for reliable journalism, Zaslav said, noting the impressive work of the network’s correspondents who have covered the ground invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces since the conflict began in February.

“What they do is so incredibly important, and no one does it better,” Zaslav said of CNN’s remaining employees.

The memo focused mainly on Discovery’s domestic product and said little of its foreign assets. Along with Warner Bros (CNN, HBO, the Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cinemax, TBS, TNT, Tru TV) and Discovery (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel, HGTV, Oprah Winfrey Network), the company also operates EuroSport, Boing, DMAX and Quest in overseas markets.

“I believe we have a winning hand,” Zaslav concluded his note. “While there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with change, I am certain that through these efforts and with your continued focus and collaboration we will emerge a stronger, more capable and more unified organization.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).