Television

Discovery Communications strengthens global sports strategy with two new appointments

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MUMBAI: Discovery Communications has made two new executive appointments that will further strengthen the company’s global sports expertise and strategy. While Jean-Thierry Augustin has been named president, sports strategy & development in a newly created position at Discovery Networks International, Peter Hutton has been appointed Eurosport chief executive officer.

Augustin, who previously held the position of CEO at Eurosport, will report directly to Discovery Networks International president JB Perrette and continue to be based in Paris. Augustin will work closely with Discovery’s international leadership team and Peter Hutton will create a compelling sports business development strategy that utilises sports as a game-changing asset and drives new growth globally.

Hutton joins Eurosport from MP & Silva Group, where he held the post of co-chief executive officer. As CEO of Eurosport, Hutton will oversee the negotiation of sports rights and lead Eurosport’s content strategy to bring renewed focus to programming, production, promotion and platforms. Hutton will take advantage of Discovery’s local infrastructure and global platforms to maximise Eurosport’s value across more than 70 countries and in 20 languages. He will also report to Perrette and will be based in Paris, with a start date of 1 March, 2015.

Perrette said, “As we approach the one year anniversary of Discovery’s acquisition of Eurosport in May, our focus is now on unlocking the full value of our must-have sports content for the entire Discovery Communications portfolio to benefit our advertisers, affiliates, audiences and shareholders around the world.”

“Jean-Thierry has been at the helm of Eurosport for a number of years during, which he has proved to be a tremendous commercial leader and this new role will harness his expertise to build Discovery’s global sports strategy and expertise. Similarly, Peter has excelled in the sports media business. With extensive experience in Europe, Asia and Middle East, and strong relationships with broadcasters and rights holders, he is the perfect executive to strengthen Eurosport’s position as a global leader in sports. I am excited to work with both Jean-Thierry and Peter as we take our business to an exciting new level,” he added.

Augustin joined Eurosport in 2001 as regional distribution director and following various promotions was named chief executive officer, Eurosport Group in June 2013. During this period, Augustin played a key role in the launch of Eurosport 2, which is available in 74 million homes in 51 countries and broadcasts 2,300 hours of live action every year. He also oversaw development of Europe’s number-one online sports destination, Eurosport.com which comprises 15 websites in 11 languages, and Eurosport Player, which provides live streaming of Eurosport and Eurosport 2 channels as well as catch-up TV around selected events in 35 markets.

“It has been a privilege to lead Eurosport over the past several years. I look forward to applying my experience and working with JB and Peter to help utilise sports content to drive growth, and create long-term relationships with key partners throughout Discovery’s global business,” said Augustin.

Hutton on the other hand, during his time at MP & Silva Group, oversaw a portfolio of rights that included the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Formula 1, Grand Slam tennis and Series A football. He helped launch joint venture channels with Be In Sports in Asia, and took the business into the sponsorship market and key local rights, such as Belgian and Polish football. Before joining MP & Silva Group, Hutton’s previous roles included managing director ESPN Star Sports, senior vice president Fox International Channels Sport, as well as COO and one of the founders of Middle East and Asian broadcaster Ten Sports.

“After over 30 years in sports media, I can’t think of a better brand to lead than Eurosport,” said Hutton. “I look forward to building on the great work of Jean-Thierry Augustin and his team to ensure that we further improve our line-up of world class sports relevant to our audiences throughout Europe and Asia. With the support of the Discovery teams around the world, we will deliver the best possible global and local events to our viewers and to our commercial partners.”

In May 2014, Discovery increased its interest in Eurosport International to 51 per cent from 20 per cent as part of a larger strategic partnership with TF1 Group that began in December 2012. TF1 Group continues to be the majority shareholder of Eurosport France, in which Discovery holds a 20 per cent equity stake.

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