Discovery Taps Michele Barney And Eric Phillips For Top Distribution Roles

As it enters a new phase with the direct-to-consumer streaming service Discovery+ among its offerings, Discovery has made two key distribution appointments.

Michele Barney has been named president of affiliate distribution and Eric Phillips will move into to the newly created role of president of global distribution strategy.

In her new position, Barney succeeds Phillips, who held the post since 2013. She will report to Bruce Campbell, Chief Development, Distribution & Legal Officer. Phillips will continue to report to Campbell and also work closely with JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery International, along with the International leadership team.

Barney comes to Discovery from AT&T, where she was SVP of Content and Programming. She handled distribution agreements across all AT&T video and mobile platforms for linear and on-demand content, apps, TV Everywhere, SVOD providers and premium movie services. At Discovery, she will oversee strategy and distribution for Discovery’s network portfolio and content in the U.S. and Canada, managing Discovery’s carriage with cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors.

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Phillips, who has been at Discovery since 2002, will lead the strategy, approach and relationship management for global digital platforms, with a focus on direct-to-consumer partnerships for Discovery+. The streaming service launched Monday in the U.S. and announced distribution deals covering 11 European territories and the UK.

Discovery continues to generate considerable cash flow from its linear businesses and signature networks like Discovery, TLC, Food Network and HGTV. But viewing and advertising revenue are starting to wane and cord-cutting suggests a less robust future for the long-lucrative cable programming business. As with many media peers, the company’s distribution efforts will have to strike a balance between traditional dealmaking and streaming’s new economics.

“Eric is an outstanding executive who has contributed enormously to Discovery’s growth into one of the most formidable TV brand portfolios among distributors,” Campbell said in a press release. “In his new role, Eric’s leadership will be key as our company accelerates its pivot to DTC while seizing opportunities to further scale our reach globally.”

Of Barney, Campbell said, “As a longtime partner to this company, I have admired Michele’s business acumen and ability to get a deal to the finish line. She is principled, transparent and fair. We are thrilled that she will lead our distribution team, especially at this time of industry transformation, to ensure that our powerful brand portfolio reaches the widest audience possible across all platforms.”

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