Discovery Taps Vitale To Lead Marketing For Oprah Net

Maurizio Vitale

After bringing in outsiders and enduring a series of rotating executives, Discovery is going with one of its own to lead marketing for the fledgling Oprah Winfrey Network.

Maurizio Vitale, the head of marketing for Discovery Networks from the Netherlands to South Africa, is going to Los Angeles as senior vice president, marketing for OWN, which is scheduled to launch in January 2011.

He effectively replaces former Nike executive Liz Dolan, who held the CMO job at OWN from early 2009 before leaving in June. She is one of many executive changes that OWN has undergone while in the development stage.

Vitale, who has worked in Europe for years, already has a portfolio that covers on-air promos to consumer marketing stunts, and brand positioning. He will report to CEO Christina Norman.

The company says OWN will launch in 80 million homes, which would be 6 million more than Discovery Health's reach at the end of 2009. OWN is taking over its slot on the dial.

Norman stated that Vitale has done a "phenomenal job" for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in a senior vice president marketing role. Discovery owns networks abroad and has various joint ventures, such as the Discovery-Hasbro kids channel, the Hub.

Since the ad market for pay-TV distribution internationally is still developing, affiliate fees are seen as the money load. The ad market was about 30% of international revenues in 2009, although the company says it is becoming an increased focus. Distribution revenues were up 16% last year to $713 million.

Vitale oversaw marketing in more than 100 markets out of Discovery's 170 international locales -- and in 25 languages.

Prior to Discovery, he was vice president, creative for MTV Europe Networks.

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