David Zaslav

Last updated on 6 September 2017

David M. Zaslav (born January 15, 1960)[1] is the president and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications, a position he has held since January 2007.[2][3] He was previously an executive at NBC Universal.[2][4] In 2016, Zaslav was listed on Vanity Fair's New Establishment List, described as 100 “Silicon Valley hotshots, Hollywood moguls, Wall Street titans, and cultural icons.”[5]

Early life and education

Zaslav was born to a Jewish family[6][7][8] in Rockland County, New York[9] and earned a bachelor of science degree from Binghamton University. Following this, he graduated from Boston University School of Law with a J.D. with honors in 1985 and started his career as an attorney with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Lieby and MacRae in New York.[10] He previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.

NBC Universal

Zaslav spent nearly two decades at NBC, where he worked to develop and launch CNBC, MSNBC and negotiate deals on behalf of NBCU with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner. As president of Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution, he oversaw content distribution to all forms of TV, led negotiations for cable and satellite carriage of NBC Universal networks and forged new media partnerships, including a video-on-demand deal with the leading cable operator, Comcast.

His responsibilities extended to Bravo, CNBC World, SCI FI, ShopNBC, Sleuth, Telemundo, Telemundo Puerto Rico, mun2, Trio, Universal HD, USA Network, NBC Weather Plus and the Olympics on cable. Zaslav also oversaw NBC Universal's interests in A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, National Geographic International, the Sundance Channel and TiVo.

Discovery Communications

Zaslav took the helm at Discovery in January 2007.[11] Under his leadership in 2008, Discovery began trading as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Since that time, Discovery’s market capitalization has grown from less than $6 billion to approximately $18 billion.[12] In 2016, the company posted record revenue, cash flow and profit driven by strong distribution agreements.[13]

Zaslav has spearheaded strategic efforts to clarify and strengthen Discovery's brands, and has expanded the company's genres from nonfiction to nonfiction, lifestyle, sports and kids. Discovery's brands, which have broad appeal with superfans around the globe now reach more than 3 billion cumulative viewers in over 220 countries worldwide.[14]

During Zaslav’s tenure, the company has premiered such programming as the award-winning natural history specials Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet, and North America. In addition, the company has expanded into live entertainment specials. The company has also continued to air franchise-defining events such as the annual Shark Week on Discovery, the original and longest-running themed programming week on television,[15] and Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

Over the last eight years, the company has elevated existing brands and launched new ones. In 2008, Investigation Discovery [1] launched and grew to become one of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S. and a top network among women. In 2016, ID was the #2 ad-supported cable network among women in the U.S.[16] In 2012, the company debuted Velocity,[17] a network that has become the leader in upscale male programming, beating several sports niche competitor channels in ratings. It is known as Turbo outside of the U.S.[18] Combined the two networks have over 165 million viewers.[19]

In December 2015, Zaslav led the launch of the company’s first U.S. TVE streaming service, Discovery GO. The GO portfolio of TV Everywhere apps connects viewers with live and on-demand access to shows and series from its U.S. networks.[20]

In February 2017, Zaslav said that the service is available to 80% of U.S. pay-TV households, or about 150 million people, and that it is connecting to younger viewers, who are tuning in for longer periods of time than on traditional cable, and contributing ad sales dollars.[13]

In May, 2017, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery announced plans to expand Germany's mobile and video marketplace through an enhanced streaming joint venture marketplace. [21]

In addition to expanding and launching brands within the corporate portfolio, Zaslav also has brokered joint ventures with partners including Oprah Winfrey for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.[22] Since its launch, OWN has grown to become the #1 network with African-American women and posted its best year ever in 2016.[23] OWN has seen double and triple-digit ratings growth following the success of series The Haves and Haves Not and Greenleaf.[24]

During Zaslav’s tenure, Discovery Networks International has expanded rapidly with networks in more than 220 countries and territories. [25]

Zaslav has led Discovery’s expansion into sports with the acquisition of Eurosport,[26] a pay-TV sports provider reaching hundreds of millions of viewers across Europe and Asia via Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport News, as well as Eurosport.com and the Eurosport Player.[27] In June 2015, Discovery and Eurosport acquired all TV and multi-platform broadcast rights in Europe for the 2018–2024 Olympic Games.[28] David has been quoted that the strategy for the European market is to profit off of the current IP's they have acquired and only add additional ones opportunistically. They have focused on the Eurosport Player OTT service, which offers live streams of linear channels, but also added content, such as tennis action from up to 16 courts at the Australian Open as well as adding country-by-country popular sports content.[29] The Eurosport Player, as of May 2017, had grown almost 50% year over year.

Other recent international investments include Switchover Media [30] (owner of a suite of four free-to-air channels in Italy) and Fatafeat [31] (a female lifestyle network in the Middle East). The company also has focused on investing in resources and talent to strengthen its global content pipeline, including the acquisition of UK-based independent production house betty,[32] and its joint venture agreement with Liberty Global to acquire All3Media.[33]

In November 2015, Zaslav struck a deal for Discovery to take a 3.4% interest in Lionsgate and joined the company's board.[34] "As with all our creative partners, we look forward to telling world-class stories with Jon and the deep management team at Lionsgate, and further strengthening Discovery's content pipeline across our linear and digital platforms around the world," Zaslav said.

Zaslav also has led the growth of the company’s education division, Discovery Education, now the nation’s leading provider of digital content, reaching 3 million teachers and more than 30 million students.

In October 2016, Discovery Communications purchased a minority stake in Group Nine Media – a new media holding company consisting of Thrillist Media Group, NowThis Media, The Dodo and Discovery’s digital network Seeker- for $100 million. Discovery will have the option in two years time to acquire a controlling stake.[35]

David Zaslav spearheaded a partnership with BAMTech in November 2016 to launch BAMTech Europe. Eurosport Digital will be the first client in order to upgrade its suite of digital products to be powered by BAMTech’s video platform.[36]

On July 31, 2017, Discovery announced it would acquire Scripps Networks Interactive for $14.6 billion, pending regulatory approval.[37] In August, Discovery announced an agreement to form a new consolidated joint venture with TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Upon closing, the venture will combine Discovery’s Velocity with TEN’s entire automotive digital, direct-to-consumer, social and live event portfolio, including industry leading brands Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Roadkill, Automobile, and more.

Discovery impact

Discovery has expanded its corporate social responsibility and environmental programs. Under Zaslav’s leadership, the company has spearheaded Discovery Impact [2], the umbrella brand for Discovery’s CSR programs, which leverage the power of Discovery's brands, businesses and employees to give back and make a difference in the communities where they live and work through initiatives such as the annual Discover Your Impact Day of global employee volunteerism.

For these and other accomplishments, in 2009, Zaslav was honored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with its Forces for Nature award [38] for his vision and leadership in driving Discovery's ongoing commitment to embracing "green" as a corporate value and developing programming that celebrates the wonders of the planet for audiences around the world.

Zaslav also headed up a partnership with the World Wild Life Fund for Project C.A.T. whose goal is to fund and raise awareness to conserve over a million acres of land in Bhutan and India for Tiger habitats.[39]

Boards and other activities

Zaslav serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, Inc., Lions Gate Entertainment, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication, Skills for America’s Future, Grupo Televisa, Partnership for New York City, and USC Shoah Foundation. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media and the Mt. Sinai Medical Center.[40] He is chair of the Auschwitz: The Past Is Present Committee which promotes awarenees of the Holocaust.[6][7][41] In 2012, he received the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award from the UJA-Federation of New York[42] which honors people of vision, energy and sustained achievement in the entertainment, media and communications industries.[43]

In 2014, Zaslav was awarded the Fred Dressler Leadership Award by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.[10]

David Zaslav was awarded the Susan Newhouse & SI Newhouse Award of Hope for his support of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) in September 2016.[44]

In 2017, Zaslav was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. [45]

References

  1. ^ Zaslav, David. "Discovery Communications 2011 Proxy Filing". Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. ^ a b David M. Zaslav Discovery Corporate website.
  3. ^ "David M. Zaslav Profile". Business Week.
  4. ^ "David M. Zaslav Profile". Forbes, Age 52 (2012).
  5. ^ BU Alums Named to Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment List”
  6. ^ a b Variety Magazine: "Industry Heavyweights Support Auschwitz 70th Anniversary Commemoration" by Cynthia Littleton January 24, 2015 |His grandparents and other extended family were fortunate to have fled their homeland before the Nazi extermination campaign began in the early 1940s.
  7. ^ a b Jewish Business News: "Steven Spielberg And David Zaslav Commemorate Auschwitz Liberation 70th Anniversary" January 25, 2015
  8. ^ Algemeiner Journal: "Hollywood Heavyweights to Join Spielberg at Auschwitz Commemoration Ceremony in Poland" JANUARY 25, 2015 |"When I was a kid I learned in temple the mantra of ‘Never again.’ But there has been genocide since the Holocaust..."There is persecution because of religion and ethnicity. This is a moment to realize that we as a global society have to stand together."
  9. ^ The Cable Center: "David Zaslav: Oral and Video Collection Interview" June 12, 2013
  10. ^ a b http://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DZ-bio-8.7.15.pdf
  11. ^ Ahrens, Frank (November 17, 2006). "Discovery Appoints New Chief". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ "DISCA:NASDAQ GS Stock Quote - Discovery Communications Inc". Bloomberg.
  13. ^ a b "Discovery Communications, Inc - News Release". phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  14. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/159035_GLOBE_2015_Q3_AT_A_GLANCE_WEB.pdf
  15. ^ http://deadline.com/2015/07/shark-week-2015-ratings-record-1201362383/
  16. ^ "Ratings - 2016 Ratings Wrap: Investigation Discovery Ends Year as #2 Network for Delivery of Women 25-54 in All of Ad-Supported Cable | TheFutonCritic.com". www.thefutoncritic.com. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  17. ^ http://www.velocity.com/
  18. ^ http://www.thestreet.com/story/13463642/2/discovery-communications-disca-earnings-report-q4-2015-conference-call-transcript.html
  19. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_FULL_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.adweek.com/news/television/discovery-launches-tv-everywhere-service-one-app-instead-nine-168384
  21. ^ Meza, Ed (2017-05-02). "ProSiebenSat.1, Discovery to Launch Streaming Platform". Variety. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  22. ^ http://www.oprah.com/own
  23. ^ "Discovery Communications CEO: OWN Has Turned Cash-Flow-Positive". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/159035_GLOBE_2015_Q3_WEB.pdf
  25. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_AT_A_GLANCE_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  26. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-newsroom/discovery-communications-agrees-to-take-full-control-of-eurosport/
  27. ^ http://www.eurosportcorporate.com/index.php?target=13
  28. ^ http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=222412&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2063210
  29. ^ "Discovery's Eurosport Invests in Premium, Local Sports to Boost Growth". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  30. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-newsroom/discovery-communications-acquires-switchover-media/
  31. ^ "Discovery Communications to Acquire Dubai-based Takhayal Entertainment". The Hollywood Reporter.
  32. ^ Lee, Edmund (November 7, 2011). "Discovery Acquires U.K. Television Production Company Betty". Bloomberg.
  33. ^ http://www.libertyglobal.com/pdf/press-release/09-23-All3Media-release-FINAL.pdf
  34. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/discovery-liberty-global-take-stakes-838730
  35. ^ "Discovery Is Investing $100 Million in This Digital Media Venture". Fortune. 2016-10-13. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  36. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Discovery teams with MLB’s streaming partner on European partnership". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  37. ^ Szalai, Georg. "Discovery to Acquire Scripps Networks for $14.6 Billion". The Hollywood Reporter.
  38. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-news/discovery-communications-ceo-david-zaslav-nrdc/
  39. ^ "Discovery, WWF partner for Project C.A.T.". Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  40. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/our-company/leadership.
  41. ^ CableFax: "Never Forget: Zaslav, Spielberg Help Commemorate Auschwitz’s Liberation" January 26, 2015 | "Driving awareness and remembrance of the Holocaust for future generations is critical, especially as we lose more survivors and witnesses with each passing day"
  42. ^ UJA-Federation of New York: "Oprah, Wiesel Honor Zaslav at Leadership Awards Dinner" April 2, 2012
  43. ^ http://www.ujafedny.org/news/oprah-wiesel-honor-zaslav-at-leadership-awards-dinner/
  44. ^ "AFTD’s Inaugural Hope Rising Benefit". Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  45. ^ "The Cable Center - David M. Zaslav". cablecenter.org. Retrieved 2017-05-10.

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