By Chuck Ross
If the past 10 years are notable for a single achievement in television, it’s been the flowering of cable TV programming. By decade’s end, from "Mad Men" to "Dexter" to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to "Damages" to "The Closer" to "Jon & Kate Plus Eight," the boom in original programming on cable has been extraordinary.
There are many shows and individuals to whom the honor of being named TVWeek’s "Cable TV Programmer of the Decade" would be appropriate.
But we’ve decided to go a slightly different route, and have honored a company for its extraordinary achievement in cable programming over the past decade.
It’s a company whose very roots are founded in the best of what TV can offer. It’s the coming to fruition of the vision of one man, who wanted to present the human adventure as seen through the prism of science, nature, history, and travel.
While that vision became somewhat blurred for a few years during the past 10, it’s come roaring back as the decade came to a close.
The vision we’re speaking of was that of John Hendricks, and the company is Discovery Communications.
In this special report please journey with us as we talk to an incredible brain-trust as they share the secrets of this oh-so-smart company.
Today we start with David Zaslav, President and CEO, along with Bruce Campbell, President, Digital Media and Corporate Development for the company, and Bill Goodwyn, President of Discovery’s Domestic Distribution and Enterprise.
Over the next week we’ll be adding one or two additional interviews a day from many other executives who make up Discovery’s award-winning team. They include Joe Abruzzese, Clark Bunting, Marjorie Kaplan, Laura Michalchyshyn, Eileen O’Neill, Henry Schleiff and Carole Tomko.
A short anecdote before we begin. It’s getting more and more difficult to surprise people with these honors. A few weeks ago, when we interviewed Harvey Levin for our feature singling out TMZ as our Website of the Year, he thought I was working on a negative article about them, despite my protestations that I was working on a positive piece about TMZ.
In this case we had told Discovery that Zaslav had been designated our Cable TV Executive of the Year, an honor we have long bestowed. Zaslav said he’d rather have us honor his entire team, which actually fit with our bigger plans anyway. So Discovery is finding out about this honor along with rest of our readers as they read this.
If you have an interest in excellence in the TV space, we urge you to read this series. Steal some of the smart processes and broad concepts that the Discovery team uses and goes through. They won’t mind. Adopting best practices can only be good for everyone connected with TV, from viewers to producers.
Finally, a thank you to all the Discovery executives we spoke with who were so generous with their time and the sharing of their ideas. And a special shout-out to David Leavy and two of his top communications lieutenants, Catherine Frymark and Alison Rudnick, without whom this special report would not have been possible.
Now, on to our interview with David Zaslav. Click here.