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Discovery CEO Zaslav: We need to disrupt ourselves to be 'relevant on all platforms'

  • Media companies will be rewarded if they can shift and become relevant on all platforms, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav says.
  • "We can hold onto our existing business or try and do some of these new forms of content," he says.
  • Zaslav says the company invested $100 million into Group Nine Media, a combination of digital brands and some Discovery assets.

Media companies need to "disrupt" themselves to be rewarded by shareholders and become relevant on all platforms, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said Tuesday.

Zaslav, a former executive at CNBC parent NBCUniversal, spoke with CNBC in a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday. The Discovery chief said the company has had to grapple with the shift from traditional TV storytelling to digital first.

Video-on-demand company Netflix, for example, said this week it added5.2 million total memberships in its latest quarter amid consumers worldwide cutting the cord.

"We have a choice. We can hold onto our existing business or try and do some of these new forms of content. Or we can figure out how to disrupt ourselves," Zaslav said on "Squawk Box." "We want to become relevant on all platforms."

Discovery invested $100 million into Group Nine Media, a combination of digital brands and some Discovery assets. Zaslav said the media group in the past month received 5.5 billion views on Facebook and has more channels on Snapchat than any other group.

"It is changing our culture. We're learning about short form content. We're learning about one-minute videos with no audio. We're learning about short storytelling," he said.

Also on the show, Ben Lerer, CEO at Group Nine Media, said several platforms on digital are competing for premium content and trying to make money. He said attention on mobile versus ad monetization is "miles from where it needs to be."

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.

Watch: Group Nine Media CEO: E-commerce merging new and old brands

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