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David Zaslav Will Run Discovery Communications Through 2019

More stock options, more years for unscripted Svengali

David Zaslav | Photo: Getty Images

David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, will continue in that role through 2019, the cable conglomerate announced today.

“David has done a superb job," said Liberty Media's John Malone, chairman of Discovery's board of directors. "He built a strong management team that has expanded the company’s reach and relevance, increased its market share domestically and around the world, and created a bigger, stronger portfolio of brands."

Malone isn't exaggerating. Zaslav has increased Discovery's market share both domestically and globally over the course of his most recent contract, weathering low ratings and bad press around pricey joint venture OWN until the bleeding stopped, and tapping exec Henry Schleiff to successfully boost true-crime cable net Investigation Discovery. The company's overseas operations have also expanded dramatically under Zaslav. The number of international networks run by Discovery has increased to nearly 200 and a significant chunk of its revenue is derived from free-to-air and pay-TV networks in countries like Brazil that have developed a broadband infrastructure comparatively recently.

He also presided over the biggest acquisition in the company's history: SBS Nordic, $1.7 billion worth of the European cable company ProSieben, and sports network group TF1 for $239 million. 

Zaslav's new contract, spanning five years, is shorter than his last one, which was for seven. Whether that's as long as he thinks he can sustain his current level of performance or he's has big plans for his 60th birthday is anybody's guess. What is clear is that the company is happy with the job he's been doing, as Zaslav will also become an even greater shareholder in the publicly traded company. "Zaslav has committed to hold the majority of his equity from stock grants to term," according to the company.

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