Discovery Networks International, the international arm of Discovery Communications, said it will reorganize its European business into three distinct divisions to unlock growth potential.
“Discovery Communications has achieved tremendous success outside the U.S. by driving organic growth and complementing it with targeted acquisitions, most recently Eurosport International,” said DNI president JB Perrette in a statement. “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.”
With the European reorganization, Discovery Networks International will be comprised of five major regional operational centers: Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA), Latin America/U.S. Hispanic, and Asia-Pacific.
Discovery Communications’ international revenues now exceed those in the U.S., and the division has just delivered a third straight record quarter in viewership, reaching 643 million viewers outside the U.S. during 3Q14.
The three new European divisions are as follows:
Discovery Networks Northern Europe: This division will include Discovery operations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the Nordic and Benelux countries and will be headed by Dee Forbes as president and managing director.
Forbes, who was an integral part of the integration of SBS Nordic, DNI’s largest acquisition to date, will further consolidate SBS’s television networks into the new division. Henrik Ravn, who has successfully managed Discovery’s operations in the Nordics since the acquisition of SBS in 2012, will step-down at the end of the year.
Discovery Networks Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA):
This division includes DNI operations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and will be headed by Kasia Kieli as president and managing director. The division includes Discovery’s free-to-air channel in Germany (DMAX) as well as Eurosport. The new organization will establish Munich as an important regional hub for the CEEMEA business will bring additional expertise of running free-to-air networks in markets with significant scale and opportunity to the region.
Discovery Networks Southern Europe:
Marinella Soldi becomes president and managing director of Discovery Networks Southern Europe by adding France to her current oversight of Italy, Spain and Portugal. Under Soldi’s stewardship, Discovery has become the third biggest broadcaster in Italy and she successfully launched Discovery Max in Spain during the height of that country’s recession, a channel that has gained 3.3% market share amongst viewers aged 25-44 in less than two years. In France, Discovery’s portfolio historically has been relatively small but following the acquisition of the majority control of Eurosport International which has its headquarters in Paris, France has become even more strategically important.
“Dee Forbes, Kasia Kieli and Marinella Soldi are exceptional leaders with demonstrated track records of building value for our company and these changes will enable them to better capitalize on the benefits of having a mix of free-to-air and pay-TV businesses across Europe,” Perrett said in a statement. “I am grateful to Henrik for shepherding recent successes with the invaluable support of his talented management team and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”