Travel Channel president and general manager Patrick Younge is going to be doing a little traveling of his own in the new year.
Younge, the leader of the service that Cox Communications acquired from Discovery in 2007, will leave the network in January 2010 to return to London, where his youngest child has entered high school.
Cox Communications' president Pat Esser and his senior management team at Cox, as well as the Travel Channel staff, have known about Young's plans since 2007, according to the company.
Under Younge's tutelage, the network phased out its heavy reliance on "The World Poker Tour" franchise and created such personality-driven series as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Samantha Brown's Passport . In first quarter 2009, the network averaged a record 508,000 viewers in primetime, up 2% over the previous year. Travel has also lowered its median age to 45 from 50 over the past year.
It was unclear at press time, if Cox has already commenced a process to find a successor to Younge.
Younge joined Discovery from the British Broadcasting Corp. to head Travel back in 2005. In his most recent post abroad, he served from 2001 as head of programs and planning for BBC Sport, where he was responsible for programming such as Grandstand, Sunday Grandstand, Rugby Union and Rugby League, and he served as liaison with BBC Television sports staffing and talent.
"As tough as I will find it to leave my team at Travel Channel Media , I'm fulfilling a promise I made to my two children, who remained in the UK when I joined TCM in 2005," said Younge in a statement.
"I have a terrific team here at TCM, and despite these unprecedented economic conditions we are enjoying record ratings, audience delivery and web traffic. We are also recognized as leaders in social media marketing, and through innovative programs like the Travel Channel Academy and mobile products like Travel Channel GO, we are extending our reach and revenue into new arenas," he continued. "Pat Esser and the TCM staff have long known of my plans, and they also know they can rely on me to continue to give this business 100% through year-end to ensure our upfront commitments are delivered and there is a smooth handover to my eventual successor."