Discovery Communications has reached out to former Shine America and Disney executive Rich Ross to head its flagship brand.
Ross will join Discovery Channel as its president in January and will be based in the network's Los Angeles.
Reporting to Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav, the former Shine America CEO and longtime Disney executive will oversee creative and brand strategy, development, production, marketing and all day-to-day operations for the network.
Marjorie Kaplan, who has served as interim president for the Discovery Channel after the August move of former Discovery head Eileen O'Neill to Discovery Studios, will continue in that role until Ross’s arrival next year. She will continue to serve as group president of TLC and Animal Planet, and will add Velocity to the portfolio of networks under her leadership.
"Rich is one of the most creative storytellers, ratings drivers, brand builders and TV executives in the industry today," said Zaslav. "On top of being just a great guy, Rich also is mission driven, with a commitment to quality, blue-chip programming and is a terrific fit with Discovery. I am confident that with his experience, relationships and creative leadership, Rich can lead Discovery to its next great chapter in innovative, groundbreaking television.”
Ross takes over a network that's on a ratings roll of late. Discovery, backed by such hits as Fast N' Loud, Gold Rush and Alaska: The Last Frontier, finished among the top 10 most watched cable networks in primetime during the month of October, averaging 1.1 million viewers, up 16% from a year ago, according to Nielsen.
Prior to Shine, Ross served as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios from 2009-12 overseeing worldwide production, distribution and marketing for the Walt Disney, Disney-Pixar and Marvel movie studios. Before that, Ross headed up the tween-targeted Disney Channel and during his five year tenure led the service to record ratings growth. He oversaw the development of cable’s most watched original movie of alltime in 2007’s High School Musical2 and the top two scripted telecasts ever among Kids 6-11 and Tweens in Musical and 2009's Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie.