David Zaslav

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David M. Zaslav
Born January 15, 1960 (1960-01-15) (age 55)
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]


Zaslav 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.

NBC Universal[edit]

Zaslav had a distinguished career at NBC, spanning nearly two decades. Joining in 1989, he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC, MSNBC and negotiating landmark deals on behalf of NBCU with DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner. Zaslav was on the forefront of bringing films and TV shows to consumers through new platforms. 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 innovative new media partnerships, including a pioneering 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 [1] in January 2007 and set the company on course for a rapid transformation, with a dedicated focus on growth, performance and operational efficiency. 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 $30 billion.

Zaslav has spearheaded strategic efforts to clarify and strengthen Discovery's world-class 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% as of the first quarter in the U.S. alone[2], and 2.9 billion cumulative subscribers in over 220 countries worldwide [3].

During Zaslav’s tenure, the company has premiered such iconic programming as the award-winning natural history specials Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet, and North America. In addition, the company has expanded into ground-breaking, live entertainment specials with increased engagement across all platforms. That success includes the epic Discovery Channel programming event Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda, in which the acclaimed daredevil walked across the Grand Canyon untethered, riveting 25 million viewers worldwide. 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. The 2014 Shark Week earned the highest ratings in its 27-year history[4] with 42 million viewers.

Over the last seven years the company has elevated existing brands and launched many new ones. Animal Planet [5] has the successful series River Monsters, and Tree House Masters, and recorded its third consecutive year as a top-20 network among men in primetime [6]. In 2008, Investigation Discovery [7] launched which quickly grew to become one of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S. and a top 15 network among women. Last year, ID saw its average international audience jump 24% and had its best year ever in terms of primetime delivery growth across many demographics [8]. In 2012, the company debuted Velocity [9], 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 the U.S. and nearly doubled its number of subscribers in Latin American last year. Destination America [10], which launched in May 2012, features several new and successful series including BBQ Pitmasters and Mountain Monsters, and has ad four consecutive years of primetime delivery growth across demographics [11].

In addition to expanding and launching brands within the corporate portfolio, Zaslav also has brokered joint ventures with strategic partners Hasbro for Discovery Family [12], a children and family network and, most notably, Oprah Winfrey with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network [13]. Since its launch, OWN has grown to become a top five network with African-American women and became cash flow positive in 2013. OWN has enjoyed double and triple digit ratings growth following the success of the iconic series Oprah’s Next Chapter, Where are They Now, Welcome to Sweetie Pie's, Iyanla: Fix My Life, and ground-breaking Tyler Perry series The Haves and the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor.

During Zaslav’s tenure, Discovery Networks International has expanded to become the #1 pay-TV programmer in the world, with networks in more than 220 countries and territories. The TLC brand is now available in more than 150 markets with 307 million subscribers [14] outside the U.S., and is the most widely distributed female-targeted entertainment and lifestyle channel brand in media.[15] In July 2014, Zaslav said the company had passed an important milestone, with Discovery's international revenue surpassing its U.S. revenue [16].

Zaslav has led Discovery’s expansion of its international operations with two large-scale investments: the acquisition of SBS Nordics and a controlling ownership stake in Eurosport[17], a pay-TV sports provider reaching hundreds of millions of viewers across Europe and Asia via Eurosport, Eurosport 2, Eurosport Asia-Pacific and Eurosport News, as well as Eurosport.com and the Eurosport Player [18]. Other recent international investments include Switchover Media (owner of a suite of four free-to-air channels in Italy) and Fatafeat (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, and its joint venture agreement with Liberty Global to acquire All3Media [19].

Building on Discovery’s heritage of education and igniting curiosity, Zaslav also has led the transformation of the company’s burgeoning education division, Discovery Education, into the nation’s leading provider of digital content, reaching more than 3.5 million teachers and 35 million students.[20]

Discovery impact[edit]

Discovery has expanded its corporate social responsibility and environmental programs. Under Zaslav’s leadership, the company has spearheaded Discovery Impact [21], 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 [22] for his vision and leadership in driving Discovery's ongoing commitment to embracing "green" as a corporate value and developing the highest quality programming that celebrates the wonders of our 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.

In 2014, was awarded the Fred Dressler Leadership Award by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Zaslav also spearheaded Discovery Impact, the company’s corporate social responsibility programs.[23]

Boards and other activities[edit]

Zaslav serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, Inc., Grupo Televisa, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication and Skills for America’s Future. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center and previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.[24]


  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). 

External links[edit]