Rich Ross Expands Discovery Communications' Portfolio

Christopher Patey
Rich Ross

The exec adds Animal Planet and Science to his purview as the cable group reorganizes its U.S. channels.

No doubt bolstered by Discovery Channel's rising ratings, network topper Rich Ross is expanding his reach in the Discovery Communications group barely eight months after taking the helm. The cable group announced on Thursday that Ross will now hold the title of group president of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel — the latter two networks now falling under his purview.

“This strategic realignment positions Discovery well to drive our content engine across platforms here in the U.S. and worldwide, and creates the strongest pairings of creative talent to develop, program and lead these new brand groups now and into the future,” said Discovery Communications U.S. president and CEO David Zaslav. “I believe some of Discovery’s best stories are yet to be told, and I look forward to the growth and further development for each of our U.S. brands for years to come under this team’s strong creative leadership.”

Ross' new portfolio means few changes among Science and Animal Planet's other executive ranks. Previous Animal Planet topper Marjorie Kaplan just last week announced that she'd be moving to London to head up content at Discovery Networks International. Animal Planet GM Rick Holzman and Science GM Rita Mullin will both stay in their positions, now reporting directly to Ross.

Elsewhere in the Discovery verse, Discovery Life Channel will be integrated into the TLC team, reporting to evp and GM Nancy Daniels — who is leading one of the cable group's more troubled brands. (See the recent $19 million loss thanks to the cancelation of the scandalized 19 Kids and Counting.)

Ross' early contributions to Discovery have been significant. He's overseen two record-setting quarters, the highest-rated Shark Week ever (with a move away from controversial scripted efforts of past years) and its most-watched July ever.