Discovery Raids NBC Universal for a Digital Prez

New Chief David Zaslav Taps Former Colleague Bruce Campbell

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This article has been amended from the print version

NEW YORK ( -- Another week, another NBC exec running off to the cable side.

Today Discovery President-CEO David Zaslav created a slot for his old Peacock colleague Bruce Campbell as president-digital media, emerging networks and business development.
Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell
The hiring comes just one month after Mr. Zaslav retooled his executive board to remove Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks; and Maureen Smith, general manager, Animal President, among other key execs.

Bruce Campbell, who currently serves as VP-business development for NBC Universal, will undergo a transitional period from NBC to Discovery over the next four weeks. When he starts the new gig in mid-April, he will be working closely with Discovery's Clint Stinchomb, who today added emerging networks to his title of exec VP-general manager of HDTV and new media.

Mr. Campbell spoke with MediaWorks about his plans for expanding the Discovery brand online.

MediaWorks: You worked closely with David Zaslav during your years at NBC, but what was it about the Discovery brand specifically that appealed to you?

Bruce Campbell: First of all, I absolutely have the highest regard for NBC and enjoyed my 10 years here. There are very few companies I would have left this place for but Discovery is one of them. They're not just one of the leading brands in the non-fiction space, but obviously one the leading global brands as well. There's so much potential to do things with the brand and content, and David and the team there are definitely on the right path.

MediaWorks: What will you do in your role of business development in emerging networks and digital media?

Mr. Campbell: It's really three areas. The business development and strategy is looking at acquisitions and strategies, while digital media is taking content and exploiting it across digital platforms, whether it's wireless or DVR, and the emerging cable networks as well. But there's also some very strong brands there.

MediaWorks: What will differ about the Discovery gig from your similar role at NBC?

Mr. Campbell: NBC is obviously a bigger company, but digital media is a separate group here from our business development team. If I look at all the deals Beth Comstock's team is currently working on and all the deals from the last couple years, well over half are from the digital space. There's a real overlap in a real positive way, and frankly that's what David and I were doing together [at NBC], which is how it will work at Discovery.

MediaWorks: David recently spoke with us about the need to build the Discovery brands online by connecting with their respective communities through social networking. How will you help in accomplishing that?

Mr. Campbell: He's absolutely right. The various non-fiction niches in which the Discovery brands play have tremendous potential for building out social networks. There's such a loyal on-air base that it's something we can really translate into a user base online. Social networking can be developed in different ways -- whether it's organically through licensing tools or perhaps acquiring existing properties.

MediaWorks: While we'll have to wait and see what you end up doing with Discovery, what can you say about the role digital will play in this year's upfront?

Mr. Campbell: We'll generally see a continuation of what we saw last year -- major media companies adding digital products to their offering and getting real reception for advertisers. It's still small and hard to separate those dollars but it is a trend. It's still early, clearly, but we're all working together. Everyone has a lot of questions that we still have to answer.
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