Denise Contis is leaving Discovery Communications after almost nine years, first at TLC and then at Discovery Channel. She most recently headed programming for Discovery Channel as Senior EVP Development and Production.

There is no immediate replacement. In the interim, Contis’ direct reports will report to Rich Ross, Group President of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel

Discovery Channel

Contis, who joined Discovery Channel in 2012 as SVP Development and Production – West Coast, oversaw all aspects of Discovery Channel development and programming, including shepherding the development and launch of the Emmy-nominated breakout hit Naked And Afraid and offshoot Naked And Afraid XL, and the live-event Skywire Live Nik Wallenda, which drew 13 million viewers. She also helped launch Fast N’ Loud and Alaska: The Last Frontier, oversaw veteran Deadliest Catch, and was an executive producer with Robert Redford on the Emmy-nominated documentary All the Presidents Men: Revisited.

Contis originally joined Discovery Communications in 2008 as VP Production and Development – West Coast at TLC. While at TLC, she served as executive producer on Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the highest-rated new series launch in the channel’s history, and oversaw the refresh of the TLC franchise Say Yes To The Dress as well as What Not To Wear. She also redeveloped LA Ink and developed and launched the franchise series Police Women.

Here is Contis’ farewell note to her colleagues, followed by an internal memo by Ross.

Hello team Discovery-

I have some personal news to share. I will be stepping down from my position here at Discovery Channel starting today. This ends an incredible journey working on two of TV’s great brands, TLC and Discovery Channel. It all started with an unexpected call asking if I’d consider joining the Executive ranks at TLC. Lady luck shined on me that day. What a magnificent ride it’s been…from wedding dresses to police women to a gal running for vice president to a guy on a high wire to naked people surviving to car racing and car building to gold mining and to sharks in late night and folks navigating the dark…and all fronted by some of TV’s most memorable characters. Together, as a team, we launched numerous hit shows and grew some awesome franchises. It was an honor to work alongside you.

I want to acknowledge all of my talented colleagues. There are too many to name but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention- Lisa, Marc, Heather, Jennifer, Carl, Mike, Laurie, Lara, Ben, Paul G., Paul P. and Karen…. your partnership and counsel has been invaluable. To Rich, thank you for the opportunity and leadership. Lastly, but most importantly, thank you to my amazing team-Chris, Joe B, Joe S, Laura, Emily, Leah, Dave, Chad, Andrew, Stephanie, Max, Katlyn, Becca, Brian, Greg, Matt, Tyler, Lindsay, Todd, Craig and Gladys. Many of you have been with me since the beginning. Thank you for your passion and drive. You are the best in TV.

I believe this is an exciting time to be in the content business. Sure, the business is changing and disruption dominates but I see opportunity. The future belongs to those who innovate and take big swings. Be bold. Be naughty. Get uncomfortable. You are the keepers of the best brand in the world.

As for me, I am enthusiastic about what the future holds and starting my next chapter.

I’m not great at goodbye. But, I am great at hello. So, hello to tomorrow where we will see each other again just not in the bustling halls or elevators of Discovery.

I’ll be watching and cheering.


Here is Ross’ email:

As you have heard from Denise, she has chosen to leave Discovery after almost 9 years, having accomplished all that she had set out to do and now on the lookout for new challenges. She has had a great run at the company, helping to make Discovery the number one non-sports network in our demo and hitting record quarters. She will be missed.

While we decide as to how we move forward, all her direct reports will be reporting in to me.