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Discovery resets streaming team amid exit of top direct-to-consumer exec

Discovery Communications' top direct-to-consumer exec is setting his exit just as the programmer plows ahead with plans to develop and launch a broader mix of streaming video products.

Peter Faricy, a former Amazon exec who joined Discovery in 2018 to head up its DTC efforts, informed Discovery that he was resigning effective July 15, 2020, in an SEC filing.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav shared word of Faricy's departure on Friday via a memo, according to Deadline. Zaslav's memo did not go into deep detail behind the decision, but noted that Faricy's exit follows "a few months of discussion" between the execs, and that Faricy "has decided that now is the right time to leave Discovery."

Faricy made "personal sacrifices" over the past two years, with much time spent away from his family in Seattle, Zaslav explained. "Peter has decided that time with his family will come first once travel starts up again."

Discovery will not replace Faricy's role but will instead divvy up his duties among three other Discovery execs – Avi Saxena, Karen Leever and Lisa Holme – who now all report to Zaslav.

Saxena will continue to lead Discovery's global technology team and support the customer experience across the programmer's lineup of DTC products. Leever will head up Discovery's TV Everywhere and Discovery Go business, which centers on streaming apps for Discovery's pay-TV distribution partners, as well as Discovery's "aggregated app" strategy in the US. Holme, an exec who recently joined Discovery from Hulu, will continue to spearhead all content and programming strategies for the aggregated app efforts and Discovery's broader partnership initiatives.

Zaslav is hopeful that Faricy's departure offers Discovery an opportunity to promote some of the company's top DTC execs and help to "streamline our decision making and further accelerate our progress … DTC is critical to our future."

But those moves come at a critical time for Discovery as it looks to expand its streaming capabilities and build and develop new direct-to-consumer products to offset the erosion of the traditional pay-TV market. That's a card that's being played by other major programmers and studios, including WarnerMedia, Disney, ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal.

Like other programmers, Discovery, which acquired Scripps Interactive and networks and brands such as HGTV in early 2018, is also dealing with pressure on its TV ad business during the pandemic. However, Discovery's US ad business is "coming back faster" than expected, Zaslav said last week at a Credit Suisse investor conference held online.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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