In Reorganization, Discovery Names First Global Chief of Animal Planet

The U.S. Animal Planet channel comes under new chief's control

U.K. executive Susanna Dinnage will be Animal Planet’s first global president, the channel’s parent group Discovery said Thursday.

The current U.S. general manager of the wildlife brand, Patrice Andrews, will leave Discovery as part of a reorganization that sees the U.S. Animal Planet absorbed into and managed as a global operation, rather than by Rich Ross’ group in the U.S.

Former Walt Disney Studios boss Ross runs a U.S. stable of networks that includes Discovery Channel and Science Channel. Moving Animal Planet out of that group, and running a U.S. channel as part of a global operation, is a first for Discovery.

Dinnage will report to Discovery CEO David Zaslav and international chief Jean-Briac Perrette. She has been overseeing international content for Discovery and running the U.K. and Ireland business – the biggest of its international operations – out of the company’s London base. The global U.K. and U.S. Animal Planet operation will be run from Discovery’s London HQ.

Discovery told Variety she will continue to run the U.K. and Ireland operation for an interim period before a permanent replacement in that role is found.

As well as running the Animal Planet linear channel, Dinnage will oversee direct-to-consumer launches of wildlife content as Discovery continues its drive into digital. She will also run the short-form and mobile content part of the animal-based content business.

The appointment marks the first time wildlife brand Animal Planet has had a global chief. “We are confident that this new global model, combined with Susanna’s expert leadership and the worldwide appeal of our animal content, will maximize Animal Planet’s power across linear channels and create new digital opportunities around the world,” Zaslav said.

Dinnage has been at Discovery since 2009 in various roles. “I look forward to bringing new talent and more adventure and reflecting the worldwide love of animals to every screen on Animal Planet,” she said. “With a team based in London and New York, this is a great opportunity to work with a wide range of production companies across the world.”

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