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Discovery's Streaming Chief Is Stepping Down Just as Streaming Wars Heat Up

By James Brumley – Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 6:45PM

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The owner of cable channels Animal Planet and TLC may be reshaping its direct-to-consumer hierarchy as part of major strategic changes

Peter Faricy, CEO of the streaming unit for cable television brand Discovery (DISC.A) (DISC.B), will step down on July 15 after less than two years in the role. Faricy informed the company of the decision last week, and Discovery publicly disclosed it through a Securities and Exchange Commission filing shortly thereafter. The official notice read, "The Company has agreed to treat Mr. Faricy's departure as a Termination not for Cause by the Company under the terms of Mr. Faricy's Employment Agreement."

The wording of the move is as curious as its timing.

Businessman holding box of personal effects after quitting a job

Image source: Getty Images.

Several over-the-top [OTT] streaming platforms have been launched in recent months, including Walt Disney's Disney+, Peacock from Comcast division NBCUniversal, and HBO Max from AT&T arm Warner Media.

Discovery (which owns HGTV, the Food Network, Animal Planet, the Travel Channel, and others) has discussed piecing together much of its available content to form its own stand-alone streaming platform for nearly a year. CEO David Zaslav even explained during February's earnings call, "We are focusing hard at aggregating our brands into an OTT service here in the U.S." And in March, he named former Google executive Neil Chugani as CFO and strategy head for its planned direct-to-consumer streaming products. But that all-encompassing service for the U.S. market still doesn't exist.

Most of the executives responsible for different aspects of Discovery's direct-to-consumer/streaming products will also now report directly to Zaslav, with no apparent replacement for Faricy being considered at this time.

Given all the changes to the chain of command, including the addition of Chugani, it's possible Discovery could be preparing for a product launch or a pre-launch overhaul of its streaming platforms.

James Brumley owns shares of AT&T. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short July 2020 $115 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. Stock Quote
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The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
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AT&T Inc.
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