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The Five Spot: Peter Faricy, CEO, Global Direct-to-Consumer, Discovery Inc.

BONUS FIVE

What’s on your DVR? Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown
All-time favorite show?Modern Family and Everybody Loves Raymond.
Destinations on your vacation bucket list? Italy (particularly Tuscany); any Hawaiian island; the Maldives; Southern France.
Books on your nightstand?Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Favorite podcast? Bob Goff’s The Dream Big Podcast

Peter Faricy joined Discovery in September 2018 after 13 years at Amazon, the last 10 building its Amazon Marketplace e-commerce business from 35 people when he joined to a global powerhouse with 22,000 employees in 92 locations around the world when he left. As CEO of Global Direct-to-Consumer, Faricy is in charge of Discovery’s digital and streaming video offerings worldwide. After a year of focusing on the technology platform for the streaming business, Discovery launched Food Network Kitchen on Oct. 22 and has several other new products in the pipeline. He spoke with B+C contributing editor Mike Farrell.

What drew you to Discovery?

It was really three things: One is I really do believe that what’s happening in streaming and direct-to-consumer in the media world has a chance to positively change the world for the better. Number two, I really saw this as a company that had an enormous amount of potential. We have a group of brands and a group of networks and shows and talent that consumers absolutely love. Finally, in my view, the winners in the direct-to-consumer world are going to be people who can take the great content, like we have at Discovery, but also build really great products that consumers love. That last piece was something I learned to do at Amazon over my 13 years there. So I also felt like, “Gosh, I have something to offer here. This is a good fit.”

Amazon Marketplace is primarily an e-commerce business. Do you see similarities in what Discovery is trying to do with streaming?

Part of my role when I ran the Marketplace was we kind of became the entrepreneurial engine for Amazon. … It’s not just having the e-commerce experience, but learning how you leverage technology to build products that people end up loving.

Thanksgiving just passed, typically a big day for Food Network. Was it also a big day for Food Network Kitchen?

Absolutely. A lot of the Thanksgiving preparation happens in the weeks before Thanksgiving, so we had an enormous run-up … of people looking for recipes, taking our step-by-step tutorials. I took one on “How to Carve a Turkey” that I actually learned something from even though I’ve been carving a turkey for 30 years.

I know it’s early, but are there any subscriber numbers you could share or goals you have for the service?

The single most important thing I’m looking for is the amount of engagement both for the free users and for the subscribers. The best measure as to if they are going to stay, is how often do the come back, how many different pieces of content do they view, how long do they spend with you when they come back. Those are the metrics and we are really pleased with how well they are performing and how engaged consumers are.

What’s next in the content pipeline?

Last year we did an amazing deal with the BBC where we have exclusive access to all of their great natural history content — Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Serengeti; I could go on and on. When you combine that with the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Science Channel, we have the definitive collection of natural history anywhere in the world. We’ve announced that we plan to pull all of that content together and at some point launch a product around that content and maybe more sometime in 2020. The other thing we’ve announced for next year is a real exciting partnership with Chip and Joanna Gaines. We’re launching a TV network and a direct-to-consumer product around this lifestyle brand called Magnolia. Those are the next two frontiers that we’re climbing, but I will say stay tuned because we’re working on a lot more behind the scenes.