Warner Bros. Discovery exits multiply, as new UK sport venture revealed

Polly Cochrane

Warner Bros. Discovery exits continue apace, with UK chief Polly Cochrane and kids topper Tom Ascheim joining TBS & TNT chief Brett Weitz in leaving the freshly minted company.

Cochrane had been in the role since 2020, when she replaced long-standing Warner Bros. exec John Stanley who departed following the creation of a new TV and digital distribution team at WarnerMedia.

Former marketing chief Cochrane had previously taken on part of Josh Berger’s remit following his departure as Warner Bros. UK, Ireland, Spain & Nordics president, appointing a four-pronged exec team to lead operations.

That included expanded roles for ex-BBC Worldwide exec Alison Morris, who led the TV & digital distribution group. It is not immediately clear how that division will fit into the new Warner Bros. Discovery set-up.

Tom Ascheim

The company’s international exec team was unveiled under Gerhard Zeiler last month, with new roles for Priya Dogra, James Gibbons and Anil Jhingan. The structure has employed “dedicated regional leads” to “increase focus on key markets”, creating a different geographical split to the pre-merger state.

Ascheim & Weitz out

Tom Ascheim, president of global kids, young adults & classic, is also leaving his role that included a remit across nets including Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.

He also oversaw kids and family programming for HBO Max as well as Warner Bros. Animation in LA. Ascheim joined WarnerMedia in 2020 from Disney, where had overseen Freeform.

His exit comes alongside that of Brett Weitz, who has most recently leading TNT, TBS and TruTV. The US networks have been in a state of hiatus in recent weeks, with development suspended at TNT.

David Zaslav

The departures come two months since WarnerMedia combined with Discovery, with the combined company’s CEO David Zaslav then installing Kathleen Finch to oversee what had been the US networks group. Global comms chief Johanna Fuentes is among others to have left in recent days.

Sports segue

In non-exec related news, Warner Bros. Discovery has also revealed a major move into sports in the UK and Ireland following a tie up with UK telco BT.

The companies are launching a new joint venture that will see BT Sport moved across the WBD’s operations, bolstering its Eurosport operations. A date for the move has not been revealed.

Once complete, the combined offer will house competitions including football’s UEFA Champions League and Europa League, as well as rights to the Premier League and Premiership Rugby.

Olympic Games coverage, the Australian Open and the Tour de France will also be available, with the JV confirming that it has also struck a new pact with Sky that will enable the pay TV operator to distribute the combined package.

The deal, which also includes provision for the telco to offer Discovery+ to its customers, will see BT receiving £93m ($113m) from WBD, with a further payment of around $650m if earn-out conditions are met.

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