David Zaslav

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David M. Zaslav
Born January 15, 1960 (1960-01-15) (age 56)
Nationality United States
Alma mater Binghamton University
Boston University School of Law
Occupation President & CEO Discovery Communications

David M. Zaslav (born January 15, 1960)[1] is the president and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications, a position he has held since January 2007.[2][3] He was previously an executive at NBC Universal.[2][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Zaslav was born to a Jewish family[5][6][7] in Rockland County, New York[8] and earned a bachelor of science degree from Binghamton University. Following this, he graduated from Boston University School of Law with a J.D. with honors in 1985 and started his career as an attorney with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Lieby and MacRae in New York.[9] He previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.

NBC Universal[edit]

Zaslav spent nearly two decades at NBC, where he worked to develop and launch CNBC, MSNBC and negotiate deals on behalf of NBCU with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner. As president of Cable and Domestic TV and New Media Distribution, he oversaw content distribution to all forms of TV, led negotiations for cable and satellite carriage of NBC Universal networks and forged new media partnerships, including a video-on-demand deal with the leading cable operator, Comcast.

His responsibilities extended to Bravo, CNBC World, SCI FI, ShopNBC, Sleuth, Telemundo, Telemundo Puerto Rico, mun2, Trio, Universal HD, USA Network, NBC Weather Plus and the Olympics on cable. Zaslav also oversaw NBC Universal's interests in A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, National Geographic International, the Sundance Channel and TiVo.

Discovery Communications[edit]

Zaslav took the helm at Discovery in January 2007.[10] Under his leadership in 2008, Discovery began trading as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Since that time, Discovery’s market capitalization has grown from less than $6 billion to approximately $18 billion.[11]

Zaslav has spearheaded strategic efforts to clarify and strengthen Discovery's brands, including a renewed focus on creativity and a two-fold increase in investment in original content. These efforts have helped drive viewership share growth of Discovery’s networks from 7% in 2008 to 12% in the U.S. in 2015,[12] and 3 billion cumulative viewers in over 220 countries worldwide.[13]

During Zaslav’s tenure, the company has premiered such programming as the award-winning natural history specials Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet, and North America. In addition, the company has expanded into live entertainment specials. The company has also continued to air franchise-defining events such as the annual Shark Week on Discovery, the original and longest-running themed programming week on television,[14] and Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

Over the last eight years, the company has elevated existing brands and launched new ones. Animal Planet [1] has premiered series including River Monsters, and Treehouse Masters, and recorded its fourth consecutive year as a top-20 network among men in primetime.[15] In 2008, Investigation Discovery [2] launched and grew to become one of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S. and a top network among women. In fourth quarter 2015, ID was the #1 network with women in total day delivery. In 2012, the company debuted Velocity,[16] a network that has become the leader in upscale male programming, beating several sports niche competitor channels in ratings. It is known as Turbo outside of the U.S., where its distribution increased by 30% across Latin American in 2015.[17] Combined the two networks have over 140 million viewers.[18]

In December 2015, Zaslav led the launch of the company’s first U.S. TVE streaming service, Discovery GO, connecting viewers with live and on-demand access to shows and series from nine U.S. networks in the Discovery portfolio – Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, Velocity, Destination America, American Heroes Channel and Discovery Life.[19]

In addition to expanding and launching brands within the corporate portfolio, Zaslav also has brokered joint ventures with partners including Hasbro and Oprah Winfrey for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.[20] Since its launch, OWN has grown to become a top five network with African-American women and became cash flow positive in 2013.[21] OWN has seen double and triple-digit ratings growth following the success of series Oprah’s Next Chapter, Where are They Now, Welcome to Sweetie Pie's, Iyanla: Fix My Life, and Tyler Perry series The Haves and the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor.[22] In 2015, OWN was the #1 ad-supported cable network among all Women on Tuesday nights. [23]

During Zaslav’s tenure, Discovery Networks International has expanded rapidly with networks in more than 220 countries and territories. The TLC brand is now available to more than 330 million viewers [24] outside the U.S., and is the most widely distributed female-targeted entertainment and lifestyle channel brand in media.[25] In July 2014, Zaslav said the company had passed an important milestone, with Discovery's international revenue surpassing its U.S. revenue.[26]

Zaslav has led Discovery’s expansion of its international operations with two large-scale investments: the acquisition of SBS Nordics and Eurosport,[27] a pay-TV sports provider reaching hundreds of millions of viewers across Europe and Asia via Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport News, as well as Eurosport.com and the Eurosport Player.[28] In June 2015, Discovery and Eurosport acquired all TV and multi-platform broadcast rights in Europe for the 2018–2024 Olympic Games.[29] David has been quoted that the strategy for the European market is to profit off of the current IP's they have aqcuired and only add additional ones opportunistically. They have focused on the Eurosport Player OTT service, which offers live streams of linear channels, but also added content, such as tennis action from up to 16 courts at the Australian Open as well as adding country-by-country popular sports content.[30]

Other recent international investments include Switchover Media [31] (owner of a suite of four free-to-air channels in Italy) and Fatafeat [32] (a female lifestyle network in the Middle East). The company also has focused on investing in resources and talent to strengthen its global content pipeline, including the acquisition of UK-based independent production house betty,[33] and its joint venture agreement with Liberty Global to acquire All3Media.[34]

In November 2015, Zaslav struck a deal for Discovery to take a 3.4% interest in Lionsgate and joined the company's board.[35] "As with all our creative partners, we look forward to telling world-class stories with Jon and the deep management team at Lionsgate, and further strengthening Discovery's content pipeline across our linear and digital platforms around the world," Zaslav said.

Zaslav also has led the growth of the company’s education division, Discovery Education, now the nation’s leading provider of digital content, reaching 3 million teachers and more than 30 million students.

Discovery impact[edit]

Discovery has expanded its corporate social responsibility and environmental programs. Under Zaslav’s leadership, the company has spearheaded Discovery Impact [3], the umbrella brand for Discovery’s CSR programs, which leverage the power of Discovery's brands, businesses and employees to give back and make a difference in the communities where they live and work through initiatives such as the annual Discover Your Impact Day of global employee volunteerism.

For these and other accomplishments, in 2009, Zaslav was honored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with its Forces for Nature award [36] for his vision and leadership in driving Discovery's ongoing commitment to embracing "green" as a corporate value and developing programming that celebrates the wonders of the planet for audiences around the world. In 2012, he received the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award by the UJA-Federation for New York, which honors people of vision, energy and sustained achievement in the entertainment, media and communications industries.[37]

In 2014, Zaslav was awarded the Fred Dressler Leadership Award by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.[9]

Boards and other activities[edit]

Zaslav serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, Inc., Lions Gate Entertainment, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication, Skills for America’s Future, Grupo Televisa, Partnership for New York City, and USC Shoah Foundation. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media and the Mt. Sinai Medical Center.[38] He is chair of the Auschwitz: The Past Is Present Committee which promotes awarenees of the Holocaust.[5][6][39] In 2012, he received the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award from the UJA-Federation of New York.[40]


  1. ^ Zaslav, David. "Discovery Communications 2011 Proxy Filing". Secuirities and Exchange Commission. 
  2. ^ a b David M. Zaslav Discovery Corporate website.
  3. ^ "David M. Zaslav Profile". Business Week. 
  4. ^ "David M. Zaslav Profile". Forbes, Age 52 (2012). 
  5. ^ a b Variety Magazine: "Industry Heavyweights Support Auschwitz 70th Anniversary Commemoration" by Cynthia Littleton January 24, 2015 |His grandparents and other extended family were fortunate to have fled their homeland before the Nazi extermination campaign began in the early 1940s.
  6. ^ a b Jewish Business News: "Steven Spielberg And David Zaslav Commemorate Auschwitz Liberation 70th Anniversary" January 25, 2015
  7. ^ Algemeiner Journal: "Hollywood Heavyweights to Join Spielberg at Auschwitz Commemoration Ceremony in Poland" JANUARY 25, 2015 |"When I was a kid I learned in temple the mantra of ‘Never again.’ But there has been genocide since the Holocaust..."There is persecution because of religion and ethnicity. This is a moment to realize that we as a global society have to stand together."
  8. ^ The Cable Center: "David Zaslav: Oral and Video Collection Interview" June 12, 2013
  9. ^ a b http://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DZ-bio-8.7.15.pdf
  10. ^ Ahrens, Frank (November 17, 2006). "Discovery Appoints New Chief". The Washington Post. 
  11. ^ "DISCA:NASDAQ GS Stock Quote - Discovery Communications Inc". Bloomberg. 
  12. ^ http://seekingalpha.com/article/3141486-discovery-communications-disca-david-m-zaslav-on-q1-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=2
  13. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/159035_GLOBE_2015_Q3_AT_A_GLANCE_WEB.pdf
  14. ^ http://deadline.com/2015/07/shark-week-2015-ratings-record-1201362383/
  15. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_FULL_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.velocity.com/
  17. ^ http://www.thestreet.com/story/13463642/2/discovery-communications-disca-earnings-report-q4-2015-conference-call-transcript.html
  18. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_FULL_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.adweek.com/news/television/discovery-launches-tv-everywhere-service-one-app-instead-nine-168384
  20. ^ http://www.oprah.com/own
  21. ^ "Discovery Communications CEO: OWN Has Turned Cash-Flow-Positive". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  22. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/159035_GLOBE_2015_Q3_WEB.pdf
  23. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_FULL_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  24. ^ https://corporate.discovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GLOBE_2015_Q4_AT_A_GLANCE_WEB-FINAL.pdf
  25. ^ http://media.corporate.discovery.com.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/pdf/_globe_2014_q2_ataglance_final_web.pdf
  26. ^ Steel, Emily (July 31, 2014). "Chief Says Discovery Communications Is Open to Deals". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-newsroom/discovery-communications-agrees-to-take-full-control-of-eurosport/
  28. ^ http://www.eurosportcorporate.com/index.php?target=13
  29. ^ http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=222412&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2063210
  30. ^ "Discovery's Eurosport Invests in Premium, Local Sports to Boost Growth". Retrieved 2016-08-30. 
  31. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-newsroom/discovery-communications-acquires-switchover-media/
  32. ^ "Discovery Communications to Acquire Dubai-based Takhayal Entertainment". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  33. ^ Lee, Edmund (November 7, 2011). "Discovery Acquires U.K. Television Production Company Betty". Bloomberg. 
  34. ^ http://www.libertyglobal.com/pdf/press-release/09-23-All3Media-release-FINAL.pdf
  35. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/discovery-liberty-global-take-stakes-838730
  36. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/discovery-news/discovery-communications-ceo-david-zaslav-nrdc/
  37. ^ http://www.ujafedny.org/news/oprah-wiesel-honor-zaslav-at-leadership-awards-dinner/
  38. ^ http://corporate.discovery.com/our-company/leadership.
  39. ^ CableFax: "Never Forget: Zaslav, Spielberg Help Commemorate Auschwitz’s Liberation" January 26, 2015 | "Driving awareness and remembrance of the Holocaust for future generations is critical, especially as we lose more survivors and witnesses with each passing day"
  40. ^ UJA-Federation of New York: "Oprah, Wiesel Honor Zaslav at Leadership Awards Dinner" April 2, 2012

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