Premier League hires Discovery's Susanna Dinnage as CEO

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)


AP Global Soccer Writer

LONDON (AP) The English Premier League hired broadcasting executive Susanna Dinnage as chief executive on Tuesday, making her the most powerful female executive in global sports.

Dinnage will leave her role as global president of Discovery's Animal Planet brand early next year to succeed Richard Scudamore running the world's richest soccer competition.

Scudamore was CEO from 1999 to 2014 when he was promoted to executive chairman. The new structure will see the league have a separate CEO and non-executive chairman again, but the latter position has yet to be filled

"It represents the pinnacle of professional sport and the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and inspirational organization is a great privilege," Dinnage said. "With the support of clubs and the team, I look forward to extending the success of the league for many years to come."

The appointment of Dinnage highlights the league's focus on broadcasting, as most of its revenue comes from selling television rights. She started her career at MTV Networks and spent the last decade at Discovery.

"We had a very strong field, but Susanna was the outstanding choice given her track record in managing complex businesses through transformation and digital disruption," said Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, who played a role in the appointment. "She is a leading figure in the broadcasting industry, a proven business executive and a great developer of people."

Scudamore has overseen the value of the Premier League's broadcasting rights soaring 12-fold to more than 8 billion pounds ($10 billion), with Comcast-owned British pay-TV operator Sky the league's biggest TV partner.

While running Discovery's British operation last year, Dinnage threatened to remove their portfolio of channels from the Sky platform in a row over costs.

"Pay television needs to be about more than just films and football," Dinnage said. "The consumer can't be expected to fund all of Sky's investments and get less and less choice in return."

Dinnage will not have to negotiate a rights deal with Sky for a couple of years. Sky, which has aired the Premier League since its inception in 1992, signed a new deal in February worth 3.579 billion pounds to show 128 games per season from 2019 to 2022.

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Updated November 13, 2018