Discovery Communications Taps JB Perrette as President of International Business

Jean-Briac (JB) Perrette - PR Portrait - P - 2011

UPDATED: The chief digital officer and former NBCUniversal executive will take over from Mark Hollinger who had previously announced his plan to leave the post.

Discovery Communications said Wednesday that it has tapped JB Perrette as the new president of its international business.

The current chief digital officer and former NBCUniversal top executive will take over Discovery Networks International once Mark Hollinger leaves his post as CEO of DNI. The 23-year Discovery veteran last year announced his plan to leave the company in June. Perrette gives up his digital role immediately and will focus on the international operations and transition work with Hollinger.

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“JB is one of the smartest and most versatile executives I have worked with in the media business," said Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav. "Since his time at NBC as a leader in business development, distribution and digital to all the success and value he has built at Discovery, JB has it all – strong strategic vision, operational expertise and exceptional team-building skills."

He added: "This is a demanding role like no other, which I believe requires a corporate executive with a broad background to oversee all aspects of the business across 220 countries. Having spent half his career internationally, and with a unique mix of distribution, digital, strategy and business development experience, JB is the perfect fit to lead Discovery's international operations." 
Perrette will oversee the company’s international business with current regional and functional leaders reporting to him.
“Discovery’s regional leaders are simply the best global operating team in all of media,” said Perrette. “Through strong organic growth as well as selective strategic acquisitions and partnerships, Mark and the team have built Discovery Networks International's unrivaled footprint with powerful brands that are valued by viewers, advertisers and distribution partners around the world. I look forward to working closely with the world-class DNI team and fantastic collaborators as we capitalize on that momentum and chart the next phase of growth for Discovery.”

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The international segment is a key growth driver for Discovery. Last year, the company acquired SBS Nordics in Scandinavia and a 20 percent stake in Eurosport, the largest pan-European sports network. It grew its international ratings by 25 percent. Profits from the international business today match Discovery’s overall profits just seven years ago, according to the firm.
Perrette joined Discovery in Oct. 2011. His team led the acquisitions of Revision3 and DeFranco Creative, strategic investments in Lumosity and Learnist, as well as launched digital/online networks Animalist and TestTube. 

Before that, Perrette spent 11 years at NBCUniversal. At the end, he served as president, digital and affiliate distribution and content distribution strategy, supervising the North American distribution of TV and film content across platforms. He also helped launch new digital channels Sleuth (now Cloo), Chiller and Universal HD and played a key role in developing online video venture Hulu.

He came to NBCU after going through former NBCU owner General Electric’s leadership development program in London and working at CS First Boston in London and Tokyo.

Sean Atkins will serve as acting head of Discovery’s digital business as the company goes through an internal and external search for its next chief digital officer.

Twitter: @georgszalai