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The restructuring at Warner Bros. Discovery continues, with Kathleen Finch’s U.S. networks group the latest division to reorganize.
The reorg will see a handful of prominent former Discovery execs depart the company, including Nancy Daniels, who had been overseeing channels like TNT, TBS, and Discovery, and Jane Latman, who had been overseeing Food Network and HGTV.
Finch announced the moves in a memo Friday morning.
“Over these last eight months as a merged team we have gained a better understanding of our combined business and organizational structure, and it’s become more clear that we need to make additional adjustments for the future as we evolve to a more streamlined operating model,” Finch wrote. “I am announcing a reorganization today that will ultimately enable our business to run more effectively and collaboratively across all the brands and business functions while maintaining our robust culture of content creation and powerful storytelling. Unfortunately, the changes required will include the elimination of some positions within our content teams and of some long time leaders who have been a big part of the company for many years.”
Also leaving in the restructure are Matthew Butler, who had been overseeing Travel Channel, and Scott Lewers, who had been running tentpole programming and franchise expansions at the “D Nets and T Nets” (the former Discovery and Turner cable channels).
Moving forward, Finch says that Betsy Sanner Ayala and Loren Ruch will oversee programming for Food Network and HGTV, respectively. Howard Lee will oversee content for the D Nets, including Discovery and Animal Planet, while Jason Sarlanis will add oversight of TBS, TNT and TruTV programming.
“While it is undoubtedly difficult to say goodbye to long-time colleagues and friends, the reorganization we are undertaking will ultimately enable our content teams to share resources, work more collaboratively across brands and genres, and maximize our ability to innovate and create during this dynamic time for our industry,” Finch said. “We intend to work quickly to put the new structure in place and to sync these groups effectively, so we ask for your continued patience as we make sure we’re doing things in a thoughtful way.”
Warner Bros. Discovery has been in a constant state of restructuring since the deal closed earlier this year, with no division of the company spared.
CNN and HLN were hit earlier this month, with HLN effectively getting out of the live news business, and with its crime shows shifting under the ID umbrella. The Warner Bros. TV Group was hit in October. All together, WBD says it expects to take a writedown of as much as $1.1 billion tied to restructuring charges, with thousands of employees expected to be cut by the end of 2024.
The new cuts further underscore how the cable industry has changed in recent years, where not long ago being the president or general manager of a cable channel was considered one of the top jobs. Now those roles are disappearing altogether, with more mid-career programming executives reporting into new centralized leadership in a bid to lower costs and streamline decisionmaking.
Read Finch’s full memo, below.
December 9, 2022
US Nets Team —
As we’ve come together over these past months to form One Team, responsible for the US Networks Group, we have learned so much – about our business and one another. It has been invaluable to collaborate and find new and improved ways to run our incredible portfolio of brands. I couldn’t be prouder of how everyone has pulled together to ensure our collective success.
Over these last eight months as a merged team we have gained a better understanding of our combined business and organizational structure, and it’s become more clear that we need to make additional adjustments for the future as we evolve to a more streamlined operating model. I am announcing a reorganization today that will ultimately enable our business to run more effectively and collaboratively across all the brands and business functions while maintaining our robust culture of content creation and powerful storytelling. Unfortunately, the changes required will include the elimination of some positions within our content teams and of some long time leaders who have been a big part of the company for many years.
As a result of this restructure, Jane Latman will step down as President, Home & Food Content for HGTV and Food Network. Creative oversight for programming content will move to Content Executives Betsy Sanner Ayala (for Food) and Loren Ruch (for HGTV). Betsy and Loren are immensely talented programmers who have successfully worked as creative partners and lifestyle talent developers for these two brands for many years, guiding numerous hit series and developing scores of top talent. They will continue creating the food- and home-related content our fans love, and will now report directly to me.
Thanks to Jane’s leadership, HGTV and Food Network are two of the biggest and most valuable brands in the industry. Under her stewardship, HGTV delivered buzzworthy tentpole series as well as an expanded roster of franchises and fan favorites like Home Town Takeover, Celebrity IOU and Rock the Block, as well as a host of freshman hits such as Ugliest House in America, Married to Real Estate and Food Network’s Bobby’s Triple Threat. She also had oversight of such discovery+ originals as Trixie Motel and Kendra Sells Hollywood. We are truly grateful for Jane’s extraordinary contributions for close to 20 years, including her leadership at ID, Travel Channel and Destination America. We wish her the very best going forward.
Also as part of the restructure, Nancy Daniels, who most recently had content oversight for the D-Nets and T-Nets, will step down. Moving forward, content for the D-Nets – Discovery, Animal Planet and Science Channel – will be overseen by Howard Lee, even as he retains content leadership for TLC and Travel Channel. Content oversight for TNT/TBS/Tru will move to Jason Sarlanis, who oversees content at ID and recently added HLN crime content to his remit. Jason is a skilled storyteller with a strong ability to create buzzy pop culture moments.
Nancy has been such a terrific leader and partner at our company for 15 years where she initially oversaw programming for TLC, including the successful launch and expansion of the 90 Day Fiance franchise. Since 2018, she served as Chief Brand Officer for Discovery & Factual and, most recently, has been the Content Leader for T-Nets, Discovery, Animal Planet and Science Channel. In addition to shepherding such successful series as Gold Rush, Street Outlaws, and the Emmy-winning Deadliest Catch, Nancy spearheaded the launch of top discovery+ originals including Naked & Afraid of Love and Love Off the Grid. She also drove the growth and success of such popular event programming as Puppy Bowl and Shark Week. We are enormously grateful for Nancy’s leadership, accomplishments, and commitment and wish her much success in her future endeavors.
Matthew Butler, who has most recently overseen content at Travel Channel, also is leaving. During his long tenure with the network, Matt developed a formidable slate of paranormal content and expert talent. He helped develop and grow Ghost Adventures into one of the most successful series on Travel Channel and discovery+. Prior to his role at Travel Channel, Matthew contributed to the success of other Discovery networks, including Destination America and AHC. Scott Lewers, who oversees franchise series expansions and tentpole programming at the D-Nets/T-Nets, also will be departing. Over the years, Scott’s creative programming strategies have led to some momentous television events at Discovery, with many garnering Emmy awards, including Space Launch Live, Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda and Space Jump LIVE. We thank Scott and Matt for their many contributions and wish them both all the best for the future.
While it is undoubtedly difficult to say goodbye to long-time colleagues and friends, the reorganization we are undertaking will ultimately enable our content teams to share resources, work more collaboratively across brands and genres, and maximize our ability to innovate and create during this dynamic time for our industry. We intend to work quickly to put the new structure in place and to sync these groups effectively, so we ask for your continued patience as we make sure we’re doing things in a thoughtful way.
Again, I want to thank Jane, Nancy, Matt, and Scott for their passion, commitment and hard work – and for being such wonderful colleagues as well. Please join me in wishing them well in their new endeavors.
Those of us who have worked with Betsy, Howard, Jason and Loren over the years know that they are among the finest professionals in the business. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding cadre of creative leaders on the team, so please support each of them as they assume their new responsibilities. Because of them and you, I remain optimistic and excited about what the US Networks Group can do together, as One Team, in 2023 and beyond.
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Robert De Niro