It didn't take him long. Just nine days since his official exit from Crown Media's Hallmark Channel, Henry Schleiff will become the head of Investigation Discovery in August.
Schleiff, who resigned his post as CEO of Crown Media, the owner of Hallmark Channel and sister service Hallmark Movie Channel on May 31, will lead Investigation Discovery as president and general, beginning Aug. 1.
In the newly created position at the service, previously Discovery Times, Schleiff will oversee program development, production, scheduling, research, marketing and revenue. He will report to Discovery Emerging Networks chief Clark Bunting.
Schleiff's new gig returns him to familiar turf: he was chairman and CEO of Court TV, which focused on the legal realm. That service later became TruTV, following Time Warner's acquisition of Liberty Media's stake in the channel.
Since its launch in January, 2008, Investigation Discovery has experienced 16 consecutive months of year-over-year primetime household gains and is the fastest- growing cable network among the target demo of women 25 to 54, according to network officials. Over that period, ID has debuted more than 16 original series, including The Shift,Wicked Attraction, Dallas DNA, Extreme Forensics, Call 911 and the upcoming On the Case with Paula Zahn. All told, seven of the 10 series it launched during its first year have returned for additional seasons, said officials.
"I have known Henry for more than 20 years, and he is an accomplished and seasoned programming leader with an unparalleled track record in the investigative genre," said Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav in a statement. "Hiring someone of Henry's experience and stature in the industry underscores the confidence we have in the potential and growth of Investigation Discovery. Henry has created a tremendous amount of value throughout his career, and Clark, the board and I look forward to his passionate leadership in unlocking ID's full potential."
Schleiff was idle about four months between leaving Court TV in June 2006 and signing on with Hallmark that October. He was initially charged with divesting Hallmark Channel, but Crown, after rejecting several offers as too low, withdrew the service from the block.
Instead, Schleiff set about increasing distribution and license fee through a series of affiliate pacts, which has brought Hallmark's sub base to some 86 million and Hallmark Movie Channel's count to about 16 million. Hallmark Channel, through a spate of original telefilms, has also solidified its spot in the top 10 of cable's primetime ratings.
However, Crown Media now must decide to accept a deal from Hallmark Cards, its largest creditor and equity holder, that would cut more than half of its $1.1 billion debt load from its books. While the move could prevent a potential default situation, it would virtually dilute minority shareholders' stake in the company to nothing.
Schleiff, who had a non-compete clause in his Crown contract, received a $2.5 million exit package.