Sarah Palin and Kate Gosselin have helped Eileen O’Neill get a big new job at Discovery Communications. O’Neill, General Manager of Discovery’s TLC, home of such hit series as Jon and Kate Plus 8, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, 19 Kids and Counting and Sister Wives, will now also oversee the flagship Discovery Channel.
Silver Spring, Md. – Discovery Communications today named Eileen O’Neill to the newly created position of Group President, Discovery and TLC Networks. The expanded role overseeing Discovery’s two U.S. flagships was part of a larger restructuring of Discovery’s U.S. networks announced by Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav.
“Eileen is a home-grown Discovery talent with a 21-year track record of success that is nothing short of astounding,” said Zaslav. “Each network she led has been infused with creativity, innovation and content that breaks through the clutter of the television landscape. Most recently, her big, bold swings at TLC have transformed that network and driven it into the top 10 for women with an incredible 31 series averaging more than 1 million viewers in 2010. We’re so proud and privileged to have Eileen at this company and I am confident her leadership will drive our biggest engines – Discovery Channel and TLC – to even greater success.”
Discovery Channel President and General Manager Clark Bunting will report to O’Neill, as will TLC Chief Operating Officer Edward Sabin, who is serving as interim General Manager of TLC.
As President and General Manager of TLC since 2008, O’Neill led the network to some of the highest ratings in its history. Hit programs developed during her tenure include JON & KATE PLUS 8, 19 KIDS AND COUNTING, SISTER WIVES and SARAH PALIN’S ALASKA, as well as perennial viewer favorites CAKE BOSS and SAY YES TO THE DRESS. Prior to TLC, O’Neill oversaw the launch of Planet Green and served as General Manager of Discovery Health, where she drove the network to record ratings in all day-parts, with popular series including MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS and DR. G MEDICAL EXAMINER. O’Neill joined Discovery Communications as an intern while working toward her graduate degree in popular culture from Bowling Green State University.
At Discovery Channel, Bunting has guided the network to record ratings for SHARK WEEK and the epic series LIFE, and oversaw DEADLIEST CATCH’s strongest season ever. Other strong performing series on the network include DUAL SURVIVAL; AUCTION KINGS; MAN, WOMAN, WILD; and, most recently, GOLD RUSH: ALASKA, which is the number one new series on Friday nights.
Also announced today was the promotion of Marjorie Kaplan to President, Animal Planet and Science Networks. Science Channel General Manager Debbie Myers will report to Kaplan.
Since taking charge as President and General Manager of Animal Planet in 2007, Kaplan has dramatically repositioned the network into a more adult-focused, competitive brand and created multiple successful new franchise shows, including the two highest-rated series in the network’s history, WHALE WARS and RIVER MONSTERS, delivering 1.3 million and 1.5 million viewers, respectively. Since its rebrand, Animal Planet has experienced 28% delivery growth. It finished 2010 with the best yearly performance ever among key demographics and was a top 30 cable network.
At Science Channel, Myers has launched more than 20 new series and delivered eight straight quarters of viewership growth. 2010 was the network’s most-watched year to date, highlighted by the special, PUNKIN CHUNKIN, which delivered the highest HH rating in network history, and THROUGH THE WORMHOLE WITH MORGAN FREEMAN, which was the network’s highest-rated series ever.
Finally, Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager of Investigation Discovery (ID) and Military Networks, will assume new responsibilities for Discovery’s Emerging Networks, Planet Green and FitTV, with Laura Michalchyshyn, President and General Manager, reporting to him while the company determines the strongest creative strategy for these networks to realize their full growth potential in the future.
Since joining Discovery in 2009, Schleiff has catapulted ID into a top 25 network in cable on many nights with hit series like ON THE CASE WITH PAULA ZAHN, which earned the channel its first ever 1 HH rating, and STOLEN VOICES, BURIED SECRETS, which this past Monday became the highest-rated telecast in ID history garnering a 1.61 HH rating and 1.46 million viewers. Under Schleiff’s leadership, ID is now the fastest-growing network in cable for both audience growth and distribution.
“Both Marjorie and Henry are outstanding creative executives with a proven knack for developing compelling characters and stories that resonate with viewers. I look forward to them bringing this same innovative and energetic approach to strengthen and grow our other U.S. brands,” said Zaslav.