Comcast Appoints Dana Strong as Sky Group CEO
Courtesy of Comcast
Comcast Cable executive Dana Strong is set to succeed Jeremy Darroch as CEO of Sky Group in what is a major restructure at the European pay-TV operator.
A 13-year veteran of Sky, Darroch will stay on as executive chairman through 2021, and will serve as an advisor to the company thereafter. The reshuffle comes just over two years since Comcast completed its acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV outfit.
Strong, who joined Comcast in 2018 from Sky competitor Virgin Media in the U.K., most recently served as president of consumer services for Comcast Cable, the largest broadband and TV provider in the U.S with nearly 33 million customers. In this role, she was responsible for Comcast’s residential business and led new product and market launches in broadband, video, home security and mobile. Under Strong, the company achieved record subscriber and broadband growth.
Strong — who was educated in the U.S. but spent the majority of her career in the U.K. and Australia — was previously president and COO of Virgin Media and chief transformation officer of Liberty Global, as well as CEO of UPC Ireland and COO of satellite operator AUSTAR in Australia. She will report into Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast.
Darroch is one of the longest-serving leaders at Sky and among the highest-profile and most well-respected media executives in the U.K. He has served as CEO of the pay-TV operator since 2007, and Group CFO since 2004. During his tenure, Darroch has tripled the size of the business, which has nearly 24 million customers in Europe. One of his crowning achievements will no doubt be the growth and expansion of successful SVOD platform Now TV; the takeover of sister companies Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland; as well as the construction of Sky Elstree Studios just outside London, which will likely generate up to an additional £3 billion ($3.79 million) of production investment in the U.K.’s economy in the first five years of operation.
The reshuffle at the top ranks of Sky comes just a month after the company revealed that long-serving executive Gary Davey, currently CEO of Sky Studios, is stepping down later this year, with plans to retire. With two of the most prominent leaders from the original Sky regime exiting their roles, there will undoubtedly be questions about how the business will look and operate in the year ahead.
“I would like to thank Jeremy for his exceptional leadership of Sky and his partnership since we acquired the company,” said Comcast chairman Brian L. Roberts. “Sky’s values have been a perfect fit for ours and I credit Jeremy with building an incredible culture and executing the seamless integration with Comcast. He and his team have established a world-class brand and a strong, well-run business that will continue to flourish. Jeremy has been a terrific colleague to me and everyone at Sky, but I respect his decision and I am pleased that he’s agreed to stay on to help with the transition and advise the company.”
Roberts continued: “I am delighted that Dana will be taking the helm at Sky. She is an accomplished executive with an extraordinary ability to transform, inspire and drive positive change. She quickly made her mark on our U.S. business, driving growth and innovation with an unwavering commitment to our customers. Her global experience and vision coupled with her leadership and track record at some of the largest media and telecommunications companies in the world make her the perfect leader for Sky.”
Darroch said, “It has been a privilege to lead Sky for 13 years, and an experience that I have looked forward to every day, so my decision to leave has not been easy. But with the business firmly settled into the wider Comcast Corporation and a strong plan in place, now is the right time.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by colleagues who care as deeply as I do about this business and our customers and work tirelessly every day to make their lives better. I would like to thank all of my colleagues at Sky and also Brian and the team at Comcast who I have thoroughly enjoyed working with. I have no doubt that Dana will take Sky into a new and exciting future. Her proven record for leading telecommunications and media businesses coupled with her experience in the U.S., U.K., and Europe will be great assets to Sky and I look forward to working with her as she takes the reins.”
Strong added, “There are few businesses that have the track record of Sky, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the company. I’ve always admired Sky’s innovation, brand, and exceptional focus on the customer. I look forward to working with this incredible team to continue to grow the business and shape the next chapter for Sky.”
Variety's Manori Ravindran contributed to this post.