LONDON — Discovery Communications has rearranged its European operations into three clusters to “unlock further growth.”
Discovery’s international arm, Discovery Networks Intl., is now comprised of five regional operational centers: Northern Europe; Southern Europe; Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa; Latin America/U.S. Hispanic; and Asia-Pacific.
J.B. Perrette, president, Discovery Networks Intl., commented: “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.”
Discovery’s international revenues now exceed those in the U.S., and the international division has just delivered a third straight record quarter in viewership, reaching 643 million viewers outside the U.S., up 6% year-on-year, during the third quarter of 2014.
The first European cluster, Northern Europe, is led by Dee Forbes. She will head operations in the U.K., Ireland, Nordics and Benelux, as president and managing director of Discovery Networks Northern Europe.
Forbes was closely involved in the acquisition of SBS, which increased Discovery’s footprint from eight to 20 TV networks in the Nordic region. Henrik Ravn, who has managed Discovery’s operations in the Nordics since the acquisition of SBS in 2012, will step-down at the end of the year.
The second cluster is Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, led by Kasia Kieli, who adds Germany, Austria and Switzerland to her portfolio as president and managing director of Discovery Networks Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
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. Eurosport also operates in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as a free-to-air channel.
The third cluster is Southern Europe, with Marinella Soldi serving as president and managing director of Discovery Networks Southern Europe. She adds France to her oversight of Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Under Soldi’s stewardship, Discovery has become the third biggest broadcaster in Italy, and she launched Discovery Max in Spain. In France, Discovery’s portfolio has been relatively small, but following the acquisition of the majority control of Eurosport International, which has its headquarters in Paris, France has become more strategically important.