In Depth

Women in Television: Eileen O'Neill

Who: Eileen O’Neill, president and general manager, TLC

Women in TV

Why: No sooner had Discovery Networks veteran Eileen O’Neill successfully launched Planet Green than she was given an even bigger assignment: righting TLC, one of the company’s biggest networks. TLC was listing, with audiences dropping by double digits because her predecessor’s programming wasn’t working. Fortunately, Ms. O’Neill had programming of her own to fall back on. She had been interim general manager of TLC in 2006 and had developed some of TLC’s most successful shows, including “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” “17 and Counting” and “Say Yes to the Dress,” while at Discovery Health. Once she returned to the network, she plugged in those shows, promoted them and quickly got the ratings moving in the right direction.

What: Ms. O’Neill has spent time assembling a team on both the East Coast and West Coast, many of whom worked on the Planet Green launch. “I feel like I’ve come home because there are people and talent and great shows that I’ve been involved in over the last couple of years,” she said. “It’s a great brand.”

Viewers say they learn something when they watch TLC and new shows are being developed with that in mind. “You’ll start to see some things in the first quarter. There will be a couple of back-door pilots this fall where we’re pretty confident in the ideas, but we’re going to test them out,” she said.