Rich Ross Named Discovery Channel President

Christopher Patey

The exec will start at the channel in Jan. 2015

Rich Ross' next move is official. 

Within hours of news breaking that he'd be leaving his current post atop Shine America, Ross was named president of the Discovery Channel. He'll join the company in January 2015, and will be based out of the company's Los Angeles office. In the new position, he'll oversee creative and brand strategy, development, production, marketing and all day-to-day operations for the cable network.  

Marjorie Kaplan, who has served as interim president for the Discovery Channel following Eileen O'Neill'move this past summer, will continue in that capacity until Ross’ arrival. Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav had been actively seeking a replacement in recent months, with a search process that included names such as ITV's Paul Buccieri. Kaplan will still stay on board as Group President of TLC and Animal Planet, and will add Velocity to her portfolio of networks.

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"Rich is one of the most creative storytellers, ratings drivers, brand builders and TV executives in the industry today," said Zaslav, to whom Ross will report. "On top of being just a great guy, Rich also is mission driven, with a commitment to quality, blue-chip programming and is a terrific fit with Discovery. I am confident that with his experience, relationships and creative leadership, Rich can lead Discovery to its next great chapter in innovative, groundbreaking television.” 

Added Ross, who spent more than a decade building global franchises at Disney before briefly dabbling in film: “This network is the gold standard of programmers and to be able to add to its depth of great content with new stories and new characters is simply thrilling.”

The announcement comes as the flagship channel has managed to house a collection of decent performers in Fast N' Loud, Gold Rush and Alaska: The Last Frontier, with total viewers up 17 percent year-over-year. Ross will bring with him expertise in global brand-building and scripted fare.