SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Television networks are in a period of major disruption as consumers seek greater control over the viewing experience, whether they’re watching traditional linear programming or streaming content to connected devices such as smart TVs and mobile phones. Networks also are seeing greater demand from advertisers to automate their sales operations in programmatic auctions.

Discovery, whose network brands include Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC and Animal Planet, is responding to these changes as media buyers aim to reach audiences in a more fragmented marketplace.

“The conversations do not start anymore with your network and your show portfolio, which is traditionally how television and even digital video was bought or was expected to be bought,” Jill Steinhauser, senior vice president of ad sales revenue and planning at Discovery Communications, said in this interview at the Beet Retreat San Juan.

“Every conversation starts with data and it ends with automation with our marketers right now,” she said. “In the past year, we’ve seen a rush towards innovation.”

Amid these developments, Steinhauser wants to see more technological standardization to support a well functioning TV advertising market.

“There’s a lot of great thought leaders and companies all willing to try to get around that fragmentation,” she said, “but it is going to be a long haul in order to get to truly a very good state where we are all leaning a little bit more into standardization and best practices for individual companies as well as the industry.”

Discovery has been building out its digital portfolio, which included the launch of its premium streaming platform Discovery+ in early 2021.

“We are really starting to see the application of digital principles within our total video picture, which includes a really sizable linear television business of many brands and many networks,” Steinhauser said. “I have never felt more opportunity for us as a company because of the walls coming down between the silos of digital and linear.”

A few weeks after this interview, Discovery completed its merger with AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit to form Warner Bros. Discovery. The combined company’s holdings include Discovery’s brands and Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, HBO and Cartoon Network. It also owns streaming services Discovery+ and HBO Max, and franchises such as “Batman” and “Harry Potter.”

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