One of the highest profile executives at Discovery Communications–with strong ties to Hollywood–is leaving.
Peter Liguori, Discovery’s Chief Operating Officer, will step down at the end of the year and the position will be eliminated, Discovery has announced.
Liguori, who was most recently chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company before hooking up with Discovery, joined Discovery as its COO on Jan. 19, 2010.
In its announcement Discovery said, "Liguori was responsible for launching numerous creative and brand marketing initiatives around the world, including overseeing the successful launches of Discovery’s joint ventures in The Hub, OWN, and 3net."
Some would likely question whether the launch of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, could be termed "successful." While it is true that the initial launch this past January did attract a significant number of viewers at first, the numbers dropped off quickly, and OWN has continued to struggle.
Liguori was put in charge of OWN for a short period of time before Oprah herself took it over. Said one Discovery insider about Liguori, "I think he could have been a huge asset to OWN if they had let him. But the Harpo folks never really gave him that chance."
To many in Hollywood, Liguori’s move to Discovery was puzzling, since much of his success had been with fiction programming, not non-ficition.
Besides his post at Fox, other successful gigs once held by Liguori have been president and CEO of FX Networks and senior vice president of Marketing at HBO.
Commenting on leaving Discovery, Liguori said in a statement, " "My time at Discovery has been incredibly rewarding. Every day I was inspired to work alongside highly talented and hard-working staff who never ceased to surprise with their passion, expertise and commitment. It has been a privilege to have contributed to Discovery’s mission and to have helped so many networks and brands grow their ambition and accelerate their creative momentum. My best to all the wonderful members of the Senior Management team and, in particular, to the employees at all levels of the organization who come in every day thinking of the new idea, the story that hasn’t been told yet. A special word of gratitude to David Zaslav for his partnership and friendship and for giving me the opportunity to stretch new creative muscles in the nonfiction space. I wish David and all my friends at Discovery continued success in the years to come."
Discovery president and CEO Zaslav said in a statement, "“Pete’s leadership, enthusiasm and creative vision have brought a fresh and important perspective to Discovery. Around the world, our programming, marketing and promotional efforts have greatly benefited from his energy, experience and creative eye. I am particularly grateful to Pete for tackling some pretty challenging special assignments, including the launches of our joint venture networks – The Hub, OWN and 3net. Pete is just a terrific guy and talented executive, and I want to thank him for the many significant contributions he has made at all levels of Discovery Communications.”