How Can Discovery Make More Money? Its New COO Has Some Ideas

Paul Guyardo already has launched a game-changing platform


Specs
Current gig Chief commercial officer, Discovery Communications
Previous gig Evp and chief revenue and marketing officer, DirecTV
Age 54

Adweek: You've been on the job for two months. What are your priorities?
Paul Guyardo: It all starts with the business objectives that you're trying to achieve as a company. For Discovery, not unlike DirecTV, it's about sustained high single-digit revenue growth and profit growth. So everything I try to do has to be looked at through that lens. There's three different strategies that can perpetuate that. One is to do what you can to keep people in the MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) ecosystem, and mitigate cord cutting and cord shaving. So pursuing our TV Everywhere agenda is a big initiative.

Will last week's launch of the Discovery Go app help keep these customers?
All the research I've seen indicates that cable and satellite customers are much more satisfied when anything they can see on their big screen can be seen on any screen, anytime, anywhere. They feel like that's a great value, and are much more inclined to pay their $80 or $100 if they can do that.

What are the other two strategies?
Two is continuing to grow ad sales in what has obviously become a very challenging environment. And the third initiative is Discovery Digital Networks, which has done a fabulous job of connecting with millennials, delivering over 200 million views a month, 23 million YouTube subscribers. Our goal there is seeing if there's a way to monetize those views.

While you're trying to satisfy current subscribers with TV Everywhere, are you also looking at OTT products to entice cord-cutters?
Not so much enticing them, but finding OTT products that can complement the MVPD ecosystems and perhaps sit on top of them. One of the many great things about Discovery is it has these passionate superfans in so many different genres and categories. So one of the things we're exploring is whether there are narrow and deep OTT products that aren't necessarily going to replace your cable subscription, but can be a nice complement to it.

Discovery has made a huge international push and you're heading up global licensing. What opportunities do you see there?
One of things that we're in the exploration stage of right now is this notion of location-based entertainment, and if there's something there. We already have one very successful partnership with Princess Cruises, called Discovery at Sea. It's this fantastic experience, where from the moment you get on the boat, you are immersed into all of these different Discovery experiences. That's one of the many things that we're looking at in terms of how we take all this incredible IP and all these great brands and franchises and monetize them in other ways.

At DirecTV, you always encouraged candor from your employees. Have you continued that at Discovery?
Absolutely. I can't tell you the number of times I have said in the last weeks, "Push back if you disagree." I think that's very important for your organization to know—that they need to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. That's one of the many lessons I learned at 34 working for Barry Diller [as evp of television and marketing for Diller's HSN], and it has stuck with me for many years.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 7 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.