With its $11.9 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive about to be completed, Discovery Communications is shaking up its leadership.
Rich Ross, the head of the flagship Discovery Channel since 2014, is out, the company announced Thursday, and will be replaced by Nancy Daniels, the president of the TLC Network. Also, Kathleen Finch, currently a top executive at Scripps Networks, will oversee numerous cable channels in the expanded Discovery empire, including HGTV, Food Network and ID, and will get the title of chief lifestyle brands officer.
In Mr. Ross’s three and a half years at the cable network, he looked to class up some of its reality fare. He also introduced new scripted series, including “Manhunt: Unabomber,” and a number of documentaries.
What Mr. Ross was lacking, though, were hits. Last year, Discovery’s ratings declined 12 percent in the 18-to-49 age bracket coveted by advertisers. The ratings of Discovery’s rival, the History channel, declined a modest 4 percent.
The rating of TLC surged last year, propelled by shows like “My 600-lb Life,” “90 Day Fiancé” and “Long Lost Family.” Ms. Daniels had been president of TLC since 2013, and previously worked at the Discovery Channel.
David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery Communications, praised Ms. Daniels as “a winner, with a proven track record across Discovery Channel and TLC and a deep understanding of how to draw viewers and generate buzz.”