Discovery Networks International is realigning its European operations into three business clusters with the aim of unlocking new growth opportunities, maximising operational effectiveness and increasing revenue across the continent and beyond.
JB Perrette, President, Discovery Networks International, said that Discovery Communications had achieved tremendous success outside the US by driving organic growth and complementing it with targeted acquisitions, most recently Eurosport International. “Our European business has expanded significantly over the past four years and the time is right to realign regional operations to build upon our significant strategic advantage and unlock further growth,” he explained.
The three business clusters are:
Discovery Networks Northern Europe
“Dee Forbes, who has transformed Discovery’s business across mature markets in Western Europe by creating an innovative and high performing hybrid portfolio of free-to-air and pay-TV brands, will lead operations in the UK & Ireland, Nordics and Benelux, as President and Managing Director of Discovery Networks Northern Europe. Forbes will utilise her experience in the Nordics and close involvement in the SBS acquisition, which was the largest transaction in company history and increased its footprint from eight to 20 TV networks in the region with a top three market share ranking. Now that the first phase of integration is over, the time is right to further combine these networks with Discovery’s core business and Henrik Ravn, who has successfully managed Discovery’s operations in the Nordics since the acquisition of SBS in 2012, will step down at the end of the year,” said the company.
Discovery Networks Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA)
“Kasia Kieli will add Germany, Austria and Switzerland to her portfolio as President and Managing Director of Discovery Networks Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA). Germany was the first Discovery market to launch a free-to-air channel business with the introduction of DMAX in 2006 and in April 2014, the launch of TLC further expanded its free-to-air portfolio with considerable success. Eurosport also operates in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as a free-to-air channel. Adding these markets to the portfolio and further establishing Munich as an important regional hub for the CEEMEA business will bring additional expertise of running free-to-air networks in markets with significant scale and opportunity to the region,” said Discovery.
Discovery Networks Southern Europe
“Marinella Soldi becomes President and Managing Director of Discovery Networks Southern Europe by adding France to her current oversight of Italy, Spain and Portugal. Under Soldi’s stewardship, Discovery has become the third biggest broadcaster in Italy and she successfully launched Discovery Max in Spain during the height of that country’s recession, a channel that has gained 3.3 per cent market share amongst A25-44 in less than two years. In France, Discovery’s portfolio historically has been relatively small but following the acquisition of the majority control of Eurosport International which has its headquarters in Paris, France has become even more strategically important.
Discovery Communications’ international revenues now exceed those in the US, and the division has just delivered a third straight record quarter in viewership. Reaching 643 million viewers outside the US (+6 per cent YOY) during 3Q14, the world’s number one pay-TV programmer continues to enjoy exponential growth – charting its highest-ever average audience (+8 per cent YOY) and delivering new highs among digital audiences for its non-US websites (+11 per cent YOY) and Facebook fans (+217 per cent YOY),” advised Discovery.
Perrette described Forbes, Kieli and Soldi as “exceptional leaders” with demonstrated track records of building value for the company, suggesting the changes would enable them better to capitalise on the benefits of having a mix of free-to-air and pay-TV businesses across Europe. “I am grateful to Henrik for shepherding recent successes with the invaluable support of his talented management team and wish him every success in his future endeavours,” he added.
Discovery Networks International now comprises five major regional operational centres: Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA), Latin America/US Hispanic, and Asia-Pacific.