Fates and Fortunes

Schleiffs Pops Right Back up at Discovery

6/09/2009 12:03:58 PM

Less than a month after leaving Crown Media Holdings, where he was president and CEO, Henry Schleiff has been named president of Discovery’s Investigation Discovery, a cable network that focuses on fact-based investigative content about culture, history and the human condition.

There, Schleiff’s job will be to drive the network’s revenue, ratings and brand. He will report to Clark Bunting, president and general manager of Discovery Emerging Networks.

Schleiff has plenty of experience growing networks.  He grew Court TV –now truTV — from a base of 30 million households to 85 million homes. While Schleiff ran Crown, Hallmark Channel grew until it was distributed into more than 86 million homes, and also became a top-ten player in primetime. He’s also well-connected, with a relationship with Discovery CEO David Zaslav that runs way back.

“I have known Henry for more than 20 years, and he is an accomplished and seasoned programming leader with an unparalleled track record in the investigative genre,” said Zaslav in a statement.  “Hiring someone of Henry’s experience and stature in the industry underscores the confidence we have in the potential and growth of Investigation Discovery. ”

Other interesting tidbits about Schleiff’s new gig from around the Web:

Schleiff told Variety’s Jon Weisman that strong branding will be key to accomplishing his assigned goals: “You look out from the foxhole, and you see a huge number of cable networks with some advantage in terms of size and distribution,” Schleiff said. “How do you address that? You start with a very clear and distinct brand, and I think that’s one of the advantages that something like this network has.”

Hollywood Reporter’s Elizabeth Guider reports that Schleiff envisions the new channel as ‘Justice Central,’ the brand of choice for investigations similar to the way Comedy Central has become a go-to destination for laughs.

Almost all of ID’s programs will be original, Guider went on to say, although the network will only hire a couple more people, at most, to accomplish that task. As for budgeting for that programming: “It’s never enough,” Schleiff told her, and then went on to suggest that the “Discovery family’s considerable resources and cross-promotional opportunities would help buoy the actual amount.”

And Guider notes that Schleiff will be commuting from offices in Manhattan to Discovery’s gleaming offices in downtown Silver Spring, Md.

B&C’s Claire Atkinson says Schleiff’s name also was floated as a potential head of NBC Universal’s Weather Channel.

Multichannel’s Mike Reynolds reports that “Schleiff, who had a non-compete clause in his Crown contract, received a $2.5 million exit package.”

One of many reasons why Schleiff is running  networks and I am not: if someone paid me $2.5 million to leave, you wouldn’t see me again for a long, long time.

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