Founder and Chairman, Discovery Communications
John S. Hendricks is the founder of Discovery Communications, the world’s number-one nonfiction media company, and serves as chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Hendricks created Discovery Channel in 1985 as the first cable network in the United States designed to provide high-quality documentary programming enabling people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity.
Mr. Hendricks has been the driving force behind the company’s dramatic growth, including the expansion of Discovery Communications from its core property, Discovery Channel, to current global operations in over 220 countries and territories with more than 1.8 billion cumulative subscribers. Under Mr. Hendricks’ leadership, Discovery now encompasses 167 networks of distinctive programming representing 26 entertainment brands including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery. Across the Nordic region, Discovery owns and operates SBS Discovery Media, a top-three portfolio of 20 television brands that feature leading nonfiction content, as well as locally produced entertainment programs, sports and the best scripted series and movies from major studios. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools, and owns and operates a diversified portfolio of digital media services, including Revision3.
A visionary in the media industry, Mr. Hendricks has been honored with a Primetime Emmy Award and with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences highest honor, the Governors Award, for conceiving the TLC series, Great Books. The Ark Trust named him a recipient of the Genesis Award for lifetime achievement for his efforts in raising awareness around the globe about animal issues. Mr. Hendricks has also been recognized as the first corporate leader to receive the National Education Association’s Friend of Education award for “innovations in education and technology and greatly expanding educational opportunity for America’s schoolchildren.”
Mr. Hendricks is chairman of the Board of Directors of the Discovery Learning Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of television to improve lives in underserved areas around the world, and serves on the Board of Directors of a number of nonprofit organizations including the United States Olympic Committee, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Forest Foundation.
Before 1985, Mr. Hendricks founded and served as president of the American Association of University Consultants (AAUC), a private consulting organization that specialized in television distribution, marketing, and fundraising for educational programs and services. Mr. Hendricks holds a BA in history (magna cum laude, 1974) and an honorary doctorate (1991) from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
Mr. Hendricks’ memoir, A CURIOUS DISCOVERY: An Entrepreneur’s Story, recounts the struggles and triumphs of turning his passion for documentary programs into the world’s most widely distributed cable channel, and parlaying its popularity into a leading global media company. The book was published by Harper Collins in June, 2013.