JB Perrette: Following a Digital North Star

At Discovery, delivering the ideal user experience with the consumer front-of-mind

B&C's 2012 Digital All-Stars

It's easy to get lost in the fast-paced,
crowded digital world, but Discovery
Communications’ JB Perrette
has a guiding North Star: the consumer.


“It really starts with, ‘Is this something
that delivers a great user experience?’ And
we try to keep it as simple as that,” says
Perrette, who has served
as the chief digital officer for Discovery since
October 2011.

With the numerous
Discovery brands and
offerings—which extend
far past the company’s
television channels to
digital property How-
StuffWorks and, most
recently, the acquired
and engaging each different
audience is anything
but simple. Perrette,
however, says that a common thread connects
the brands.

“[They are] authentic stories told by authentic
people, with great storytelling woven
into it,” Perrette says.

Building on the connection the audience
had made with the “authentic characters,”
Perrette introduced
online “aftershows,”
including Gold Rush,
one of Discovery’s most
successful series. The
network later televised
an episode featuring
the best moments.

The televised aftershow
brought the
Gold Rush audience
full circle—watching
on television, online
and then returning to
the TV. While much of
Discovery’s content is
primarily designed for its cable channels,
Perrette says that as the audience moves to
other screens, more content created solely
for those platforms will follow.

Perrette’s biggest push for Discovery to
enter digital-only content is the acquisition
of Revision3, which creates and produces
original digital videos about a variety of topics,
such as technology, cooking and popular
science. Revision3 will continue to create
original content for its own audience, but it
will also “build out new areas of interest” for
Discovery, Perrette says.

Although Discovery and Amazon recently
struck a distribution deal, Discovery has not
yet stepped into TV Everywhere, an initiative
that, as a whole, Perrette wishes was
“further along than it is,” he says.

“[Digital] is a space that’s moving so fast,
it makes it incredibly dynamic and exciting,”
Perrette says. “The downside is that it’s moving
so fast that at times, I don’t think [the
industry] moves fast enough.”