Discovery has reorganized a large chunk of its international business, with Kasia Kieli stepping up to take over its operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The restructuring sees Discovery bring several of its regional businesses together under a single EMEA banner for the first time, and comes as the company attempts to drive its traditional pay-TV business alongside free-to-air, digital, and direct-to-consumer operations.
James Gibbons has been named head of Discovery in the U.K., the company’s largest single market internationally. Reporting to Kieli, he also takes charge of its businesses in Australia and New Zealand.
Marinella Soldi becomes the company’s EMEA strategy and content chief, as well as continuing to run Southern Europe as managing director. Mike Lang, who was overseeing the Nordics, will remain with Discovery and focus on digital.
“Kasia has demonstrated great vision and determination with unmatched expertise in managing what is probably one of the most complex and diverse regions in the world,” said J.B. Perrette, Discovery’s international president. “EMEA represents our largest region in terms of revenue as well as the focus of considerable investment in the past and big ambition for the future.”
Kieli has been with Discovery since 2000, and had been in charge of its Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa operations before landing the new overall EMEA role. She said: “After 17 years, my belief in Discovery is stronger than ever. It is an exhilarating time as we can now offer our fans so many new ways to engage with the content they love through multiple partnerships, platforms and devices.”
Gibbons fills the U.K. and Ireland role vacated by Susanna Dinnage, who recently became the first global boss of the Animal Planet channel and brand. A Discovery veteran, Gibbons has been with the company for 18 years in various roles, including president of Discovery Japan.
Dinnage’s content responsibilities, meanwhile, pass to Soldi. She becomes chief strategy officer for the EMEA region and will create a new product development unit in addition to the programming role and overseeing teams in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal.
The international business is a major revenue contributor for Discovery. In the nine months to end-September, international networks generated revenues of $2.3 billion compared with a haul of $2.5 billion for the U.S. networks. There has been friction however as Discovery pushes for higher carriage fees from operators.
Discovery acquired full control of Eurosport two years ago and won the European rights to the Summer and Winter Olympics. Its Olympic coverage starts with the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018. It is also buying Scripps Networks Interactive in a rich $14.6 billion deal unveiled earlier this year.