John Hendricks

TV Entrepreneur

Washington, D.C.

John Hendricks is the founder and chairman of Discovery Communications. He launched the Discovery Channel in 1985 as the first all-documentary cable television station. Since then, Discovery Communications has grown to include 167 networks and 26 global brands, including TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Investigation Discovery, and is available to more than 1.8 billion subscribers in 220 countries. Hendricks also is owner of Gateway Canyons Resort, a luxury hotel in Western Colorado (about 50 miles southwest of Grand Junction) that includes a world-class spa, a classic car museum and adventure tours (think Pro-Baja truck off-road driving experiences or helicopter rides above Utah’s canyon country). Gateway Canyons also serves as the base camp for the Discovery Retreats getaways, where inquisitive vacationers can participate in “Curiosity Adventures” and do everything from explore dinosaur tracks to attend lectures on Native American history.

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  • On May 3, 2013
    John Hendricks answered the question: John Hendricks

    What is one tip John Hendricks would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

    Listen closely to your daydreams — and that sounds kind of funny, but what you find yourself daydreaming about is the real clue to what you really find fascinating and interesting in life. If you’re daydreaming at your job about something else, that’s a clue about where your passions lie. And if you find a profession or create a business that’s within that area, that’s one of the luckiest things that can happen to you. Then follow a deep kind of passionate curiosity and be willing to just put the effort into it. A lot of people are just not willing to, or they don’t have the passion or the obsession to actually put in that level of effort to make it happen. You have to be willing to put in the time.
  • On May 3, 2013
    John Hendricks answered the question: John Hendricks

    How does John Hendricks think social media has changed the television industry?

    Oh, it’s been unbelievable — the impact of people blogging, using Twitter and Facebook to endorse shows. It’s unbelievably powerful, and so that’s the way we look to help market these days. Fortunately, we have so many people now interacting with Discovery and so we’re able to communicate by email, tell them to post something on Facebook if they love Deadliest Catch. It’s just more and more important, and it’s just a big part of what we do. We’re trying to use all of the new media resources that we can. We’re also looking at the new ways people consume television and how television’s developed. We just bought a company called Revision3, which was successful in discovering raw talent on YouTube and organizing that in a business model that works. We know that people are different in the way they consume television — they’re multitasking, sending an email to a family member or writing a little note on Facebook about it, so that’s part of our new world. And the amount of tweets around Shark Week is just fascinating. People love it. When we do Shark Week, people have Shark Week parties. We discovered that people also had Planet Earth parties when we released that, but that was a time when your HDTV sets and the large screens were really starting to come out, so people invited their friends over. But now they have virtual parties.
  • On May 3, 2013
    John Hendricks answered the question: John Hendricks

    What is the most difficult thing about John Hendricks’ job?

    The most difficult is a series we’re doing now called Curiosity. It’s really challenging because it’s about bringing complex subjects to life. You start with a great word like “curiosity.” Certainly, that’s going to work, but how do you translate things like, “What is the origin of the universe?” How do you make good television out of that? How many episodes do you do? So we’re trying to finally settle on doing 12 a year — one a month. We have a new producer who we’ve hired from the world of PBS — Howard Swartz  — who was executive producer of NOVA, and he is the person we’ve charged with making sure Curiosity happens and lives up to the promises of the venture.
  • On May 3, 2013
    John Hendricks answered the question: John Hendricks

    What does John Hendricks love most about his job?

    I think it’s the production of new programs. As founder and chairman, I’m involved in some of the bigger programming risks that we take — there’s one that’s coming up called North America. I love the big nature specials that we do, also. We did Blue Planet and then Planet Earth, Life, Frozen Planet; and now North America is next. So being able to work on those is my landmark.