This is a Surprise: CEO Says High-Profile Cable Network Will Finally Be Profitable This Year, Ahead of Schedule Deadline

Launching a high-profile cable network can cost millions of dollars, so it's of some note that a money-loser is now predicted to make money this year.

David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery Communications, made the surprise announcement that the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which Discovery co-owns with Oprah Winfrey, will actually be profitable this year, reports

Heretofore, it was thought that the network would just get to break-even by the end of the year.

According to the Deadline story, written by our good friend David Lieberman, OWN, "which stumbled out of the gate in 2011 -- is 'ahead of where we thought it would be' and 'finding enormous success for us,' [Zaslav said]. For example, on Saturday night, when it runs original programming without Winfrey, 'we’re the No. 1 network for African American women.' The comment buttressed Zaslav’s broader argument that the pay TV business is in good shape, and Discovery is doing especially well in that environment. Zaslav is unfazed by the seemingly growing number of consumers who say that they’re fed up with rising pay TV rates, and want distributors to offer channels a la carte or on low-priced tiers. 'This is a very sturdy system,' he says. 'Viewers really enjoy the basic package. … I don’t see that being challenged.' "

The story adds, "That belief will drive Discovery as it prepares to fight for higher fees in its next rounds of carriage negotiations with pay TV providers. 'We feel we need to get more value' for the company’s rising ratings, and outlays for programming. 'We’re on the right side of the argument emotionally and on the right side of the argument in terms of the statistics.' ”

Zaslav made his remarks at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference today, Wednesday, May 29, 2013.