Fox Closes Deal, Forms National Geographic Partners, Names Leadership Team

21st Century Fox and National Geographic Society announced they have closed the deal to form National Geographic Partners, after Fox paid $725 million in cash and equity in September to take control of The National Geographic Society’s media assets.

The deal combines National Geographic’s television channels with its other media and consumer-oriented assets. National Geographic Partners’ leadership team was also announced Monday.

National Geographic Partners CEO Declan Moore appointed Ward Platt as chief operating officer of National Geographic Partners. Platt currently serves as COO of Fox International Channels (FIC) and CEO of National Geographic Channels International.

Platt will partner with Moore to drive the global revenue of the entire portfolio of National Geographic Partners’ businesses. Platt will also have oversight of the new venture’s international operations.



Susan Goldberg, who currently serves as editor in chief of National Geographic magazine, will add the title of editorial director. Goldberg will be responsible for all of publishing under the new venture, including digital journalism, magazines, books, maps, children and family, travel and adventure.

Courteney Monroe, currently CEO of National Geographic Channels U.S., will serve as CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. Monroe will oversee global programming, operations and global marketing for the portfolio of National Geographic Channels around the world, which includes National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo MUNDO.

Monroe will also assume oversight of National Geographic Studios, the in-house television production studio previously part of National Geographic Ventures. The studio currently produces the network’s Emmy-nominated series “Brain Games” and Emmy-winning series “Explorer,” as well as large-format films and short-form videos.

Jeffrey Schneider, who is currently EVP of business and legal affairs for National Geographic Channels, will become EVP of business and legal affairs for National Geographic Partners. Schneider’s team will have oversight of all legal dealings associated with the new venture.

Additional appointments are expected soon.

The formation of National Geographic Partners has not been without controversy. Earlier this month, the company announced the largest round of job losses in its history. According to the Washington Post, employees dubbed October “Choptober” - this month is “Knivember.”

“As wonderful as it was to have those yellow magazines on our tables growing up, there’s no need for them any more,” Andrew Wilk, the first head of programming at the network and one of the few people who agreed to be quoted on the record, told the Guardian. “Those days are over, unfortunately.”

Wilk was appointed by the National Geographic Society when it launched in 2001. In the early 1990s, the company’s flagship publication boasted 15 million subscribers - that number is now closer to 3.5 million.

The National Geographic channel may be the company’s saving grace.

Estimates provided to the Guardian by media analyst firm SNL Kagan put affiliate fees at $271.2 million in 2015, projected to reach $284.7 million next year. Ad revenue should jump from $165.9 million to $171.1 million over the same period.
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