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Discovery realigns US network portfolio

MUMBAI: Discovery has realigned its network portfolio in the US. It has created a portfolio group that balances and aligns the company’s brands, genres and creative leadership and strengthens the output of its content engine across platforms in the US and around the world.

The changes come into effect immediately.

Rich Ross gets expanded role

Rich Ross to become Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel
group president. Since taking the helm of Discovery Channel, Ross has made an immediate impact on the network’s success, presenting a slate of programming that nourishes Discovery’s core male viewers while attracting more diverse audiences.

In his six short months with Discovery Channel, Ross has overseen two record-setting quarters; the highest-rated Shark Week ever among persons 25-54 and women viewers; grew the women 25-54 audience by 20 per cent; and drove the network to be number one for men and women 25-54 in all of unscripted ad-supported cable in July. Ross also was integral in creating a powerful documentary division and landing the worldwide television rights to the film ‘Racing Extinction’, which airs in fourth quarter 2015 on Discovery Channel in over 220 countries.

Ross will apply his expertise to Animal Planet and Science Channel, leading a group of networks with strong missions, shared programming genres and complementary yet distinct audiences.

Animal Planet GM Rick Holzman will now report to Ross. Holzman previously reported to Marjorie Kaplan, who last week was appointed to the new role of Discovery Networks International president of content. During his tenure at Animal Planet, Holzman has overseen the launch of programming as diverse as ‘Too Cute’, ‘River Monsters’, ‘Treehouse Masters’, ‘Whale Wars’ and ‘Puppy Bowl’ and helped grow Animal Planet into a top 20 network for men.

Science Channel will continue to be led by current GM Rita Mullin, reporting to Ross.

Discovery Life Channel now integrated into TLC team

Discovery Life Channel will be integrated into the TLC team, reporting to executive VP, GM Nancy Daniels. In her two years leading TLC, Daniels has leveraged her significant creative talents to strengthen the brand, holding a mirror to the culture and telling stories in a compassionate and sensitive way.

Daniels has brought beloved new characters and programmes to the network, including Whitney Thore of ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’ and Jazz Jennings of ‘I am Jazz’ and ‘My Giant Life’, which has ranked No. 3 in its timeslot for women since its debut last month.

TLC executive VP development, production Howard Lee will also assume responsibility as GM of Discovery Life Channel, continuing to report to Daniels.

Henry Schleiff to continue leadership of ID, American Heroes Channel and Destination America

Schleiff will continue his strong and successful leadership of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel (AHC) and Destination America.

Schleiff has a keen ability to attract new audiences and create networks with distinct voices in the marketplace. He has grown the record-setting ID from a top 50 network to become the number three network for women and the number seven network for adults in total day with shows like ‘On the Case with Paula Zahn’ and ‘Vanity Fair Confidential’ and break-through titles like ‘Wives with Knives’ and ‘Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?’.

Balancing out day-to-day management of each of these networks under Schleiff’s leadership will be Kevin Bennett, who continues in his role as ID GM and executive VP programming for the portfolio; Jane Latman, currently Discovery Life Channel GM will become AHC GM in addition to her duties as SVP of Development for ID; and Marc Etkind, who continues as Destination America GM.

As part of the realignment, the company also announced that Bob Scanlon has been named Velocity and Automotive Content GM.

Scanlon has led Velocity’s great stateside success – bringing the Barrett-Jackson auto auctions to Velocity; leading the network to become No. 1 in cable for men for networks under 70 million and the fastest-growing network in all of cable for men with shows like ‘FantomWorks’ and ‘Chasing Classic Cars’. Many Velocity programmes perform well around the world, so to maximise the growth of the company’s worldwide auto content engine, Scanlon will continue to report to Marjorie Kaplan in her new global role.

Finally, Discovery announced it will coordinate leadership of its global family brands and kids content strategy under head of content for Discovery Latin America and US Hispanic Group Carolina Lightcap. Discovery Family Channel GM Tom Cosgrove will now report to Lightcap.

Discovery Kids’ global success has been remarkable, with six straight years as a top 10 channel across Latin America and the number one pay TV channel in Brazil. Lightcap will draw on her track record both at Discovery, and previously with Disney Channels Worldwide, and partner with Cosgrove to lead Discovery Family’s opportunity in the US.

Said Discover president, CEO David Zaslav, “This strategic realignment positions Discovery well to drive our content engine across platforms here in the US and worldwide, and creates the strongest pairings of creative talent to develop, programme and lead these new brand groups now and into the future. I believe some of Discovery’s best stories are yet to be told and I look forward to the growth and further development for each of our US brands for years to come under this team’s strong creative leadership.”