Prud’homme among senior exits in Discovery’s European ‘streamlining’

Laurent Prud’homme, head of Eurosport France and previously senior vice-president of rights acquisitions and syndication at Eurosport, is leaving his position amid a raft of departures across Europe undertaken by owner Discovery, the US-based media company.

The exit of Prud’homme, who was named senior vice-president, general manager of Discovery France in October last year, comes with the operations in France and Spain now merged into a single unit headed by Antonio Ruiz, who has led Discovery’s business in Iberia since 2018 and was previously Eurosport’s global vice-president of marketing.

Prud’homme, one of the few remaining senior Paris-based Eurosport executives to predate the Discovery ownership era, took on the new position after incumbent Julien Bergeaud was recruited by the Mediapro agency to head up its new French pay-television service.

He said: “After 20 years at Discovery and Eurosport, I am proud of all the opportunities that have been offered to me, notably having been able to develop acquisitions on an international level and sublicense sports rights for the group and more recently being able to drive the development of the French business. Discovery is a strong and healthy company, ready for the future.”

Prud’homme joined Eurosport in 2001 from pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus in a role handling programming and acquisitions for Eurosport France. Between October 2009 and January 2011, Prud’homme was deputy director of acquisitions at TF1, the free-to-air broadcaster that previously owned Eurosport.

Other operations across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region have also been amalgamated to reduce costs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Discovery said that it was aligning several of its markets “to improve strategic focus and enable further investment in its D2C [direct-to-consumer] business”.

This has led to the departures of various senior Discovery executives, including Alco De Jong, general manager of Discovery Benelux, Christian Kemp, chief executive of Discovery Networks Denmark, Amanda Turnbull, head of Discovery’s operations in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, plus Piotr Korycki, chief executive of Poland’s TVN, the Discovery-owned free-to-air broadcaster.

As a result, Discovery’s James Gibbons has widened his remit to include the Nordics as well as the UK and Ireland, although the Nordic region will be under the leadership of Nicklas Norrby, currently chief executive of Discovery Networks Sweden (and who will report to Gibbons).

De Jong’s exit comes with the Benelux region “unified” with Germany under the leadership of Susanne Aigner, currently Discovery’s head in German-speaking regions.

Discovery said that TVN’s Korycki would not be replaced with Kasia Kieli, the group’s president and managing director in the EMEA region, taking a leadership role at the Polish broadcaster.

Outlining other changes, Discovery said that Jamie Cooke, its chief of staff in the EMEA region, would take on a new combined role for Russia, CEEMCA (Central and Eastern Europe, Mediterranean and Central Asia), MEA (Middle East and Africa) and pay-TV, continuing to cover maternity leave for Victoria Davies. Meanwhile, Leah Hooper, managing director of Finland and Nordic strategy, becomes senior vice-president, direct-to-consumer growth and strategy, international.

Kieli said: “We are working systematically to rationalise our operation and find synergies and efficiencies across our EMEA business.

“We have come a long way over the years and with this restructuring we have defined a clear path towards a leaner operating model, where we utilise the best competence across markets. By combining know-how and leveraging our scale, we will be able to streamline decision-making and operate with greater speed and focus towards future business opportunities.”

A fall in advertising revenues caused by Covid-19 led to a 23-per-cent drop in second-quarter revenues at the international division of Discovery.

Releasing its latest financial results last month, Discovery’s International Networks posted revenues of $783m (€60m), a drop of $237m compared to the figure reported 12 months ago.

The second-quarter revenues included $276m in advertising, which reflected a 41-per-cent year-on-year drop. International Networks’ distribution revenues fell by 6 per cent to $486m, while ‘other revenues’ were down by 42 per cent to $21m.