This is now happening — I have learned that Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori will be leaving the company after two years. The veteran TV executive is expected to stick around until the end of the year. (He started at Discovery in January 2010.) He will not be replaced. Liguori, who previously ran Fox and FX, is the latest top Discovery Communications executive to exit as the company’s president and CEO David Zaslav now faces three upcoming major departures in his upper ranks; Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting and Discovery Communications CFO Bradley Singer both announced earlier this year that they will leave at the beginning of 2012. Bunting’s announcement came a couple of months after he was made to report to TLC General Manager Eileen O’Neill in an executive restructuring. Despite beating earnings expectations in the just-reported third quarter, Discovery Communications continues to struggle with its joint ventures, especially OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which sucked up another $12 million investment in 3Q. Liguori was hands-on involved in the January launch of OWN and in May he was named interim CEO of the fledgling cable network following the departure of Christina Norman. Two months later, Winfrey took over the CEO position, and Liguori’s involvement decreased to a point of him having no day-to-day role at the channel. In addition to representing Discovery Communications in its three joint ventures — OWN; The Hub, which also has had a hard time; and 3Net — Liguori’s duties as COO included oversight of Marketing, Discovery Studios, Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs, Business Affairs, and Media Technology, Production and Operations.
UPDATE 6:15AM: Discovery just put out a release announcing Liguori’s departure:
Silver Spring, Md. – Discovery Communications today announced that Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori has decided to depart the company at the end of the year. Liguori was responsible for launching numerous creative and brand marketing initiatives around the world, including overseeing the successful launches of Discovery’s joint ventures in The Hub, OWN, and 3net.
President and CEO David Zaslav said, “Pete’s leadership, enthusiasm and creative vision have brought a fresh and important perspective to Discovery. Around the world, our programming, marketing and promotional efforts have greatly benefited from his energy, experience and creative eye. I am particularly grateful to Pete for tackling some pretty challenging special assignments, including the launches of our joint venture networks – The Hub, OWN and 3net. Pete is just a terrific guy and talented executive, and I want to thank him for the many significant contributions he has made at all levels of Discovery Communications.”
Liguori said, “My time at Discovery has been incredibly rewarding. Every day I was inspired to work alongside highly talented and hard-working staff who never ceased to surprise with their passion, expertise and commitment. It has been a privilege to have contributed to Discovery’s mission and to have helped so many networks and brands grow their ambition and accelerate their creative momentum. My best to all the wonderful members of the Senior Management team and, in particular, to the employees at all levels of the organization who come in every day thinking of the new idea, the story that hasn’t been told yet. A special word of gratitude to David Zaslav for his partnership and friendship and for giving me the opportunity to stretch new creative muscles in the nonfiction space. I wish David and all my friends at Discovery continued success in the years to come.”
Prior to joining Discovery, Liguori served in numerous leadership roles across the media industry, including Chairman, Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company; President and CEO of News Corp.’s FX Networks; Senior Vice President, Marketing for a joint venture at Fox; and Senior Vice President of Marketing at HBO.