My Media Week: Michael Holt, Discovery Networks
A view from Hayley Hayes

My Media Week: Michael Holt, Discovery Networks

Michael Holt, the director of brand partnerships at Discovery Networks UK and Ireland, judges the Thinkbox Planning Awards; tees up a collaboration with Carlsberg and Guardian Labs; and celebrates a new deal… ding dong.


6am. The alarm and Radio 5 Live alert me to the fact that it’s Monday and I really should get up. My Monday morning media consumption is dictated by whether Tottenham have won or not. It’s the Sky Sports App, Metro and Media Guardian if it’s three points or a podcast and a sulk if they have lost. Fortunately, there have been more wins than losses this season, so happy days for the media industry.

Monday is a day of internal meetings. We kick off with the Brand Partnership team meet at 9.30am to get an update on pitches, business under discussion and what other plans we have for the week.

After that we meet with the UK Marketing team to discuss their plans for some interesting new commissions. The first involves extreme adventurer Sean Conway who is currently running, cycling and swimming the entire coastline of the UK for Discovery Channel while the other is Undressed, an experimental new dating show in which the contestants remove each other’s clothing and climb into bed on the first date, airing soon on our entertainment channel TLC. We cover all bases here.

Monday night and I’m finishing off my judging notes for the Thinkbox Planning Awards whilst listening to the Monday Night Club on 5 Live.


At Thinkbox this morning to meet up with Lindsay Clay, Tess Alps and the team to shortlist entries for the Thinkbox Planning Awards. As always, it is good to see TV demonstrating it’s a highly relevant and innovative medium, reflected in some brilliant entries.

As ex-Virgin Radio employees, ITV’s Chris Goldson and I discuss the new [Virgin Radio] launch. They certainly seem to have a bigger marketing budget than they did in our day, but it’s good to see that the brand is back. I also get a chance have a catch-up with ex-colleague Zoe Harkness from my SYFY Channel days.

Back to the office for an afternoon meet-up with the Quest team to discuss our coverage of the World Rally Cross. According to Top Gear, it is the world’s most exciting motor sport and Quest has secured the free-to-air rights to broadcast it live in 2016 on all devices.


I’m in early as I have to prepare for a meeting at OMD. As much as I like leafy Chiswick, it does mean meetings in town can take up most of the day. Today we are meeting with the Carlsberg team as well as Guardian Labs to kick off a new project we are collaborating on together; all secret squirrel for now, but watch this space for the announcement in a couple of weeks

Later on I catch up with Caroline Reik from Endemol Beyond. I have known Caroline since my Virgin Radio days and she is a dear friend, it is always a joy to catch up with her and see what’s going on, content wise, in the digital space. She is clearly still very excited to about the tweet she received from Tim Peake on the International Space Station… beats the retweet I had from the Reverend Richard Coles hands down.


Today is all about Virtual Reality. We have the team over from the States who take us through a presentation from SXSW. It’s all very exciting and something we can immediately include in our pitches.  One of the things I love about this job is how our offering is constantly evolving and VR is perfect for the type of content we create here.

Later in the afternoon, I go through intern applications with my boss Martin Heaton Cooper and Katie Coteman. Each year the quality of applications seem to get better and better and I feel privileged to be involved in shaping the early careers of media’s next generation. Two of our previous interns are already working in the industry and I have a sneaking suspicion our current intern will be running Discovery in 10 years time.


Breakfast meeting at Hubbard and Bell with Phil Hall and Dan Wood from MediaCom. It is always good to see them; there was lots discussed with many things to follow up on. 

Then it’s lunch at the Smoking Goat with Henry Lewis and Alina Kulesar from OMD. Alina is back from her sabbatical and looking way too healthy, while Henry is also looking great, owing to his recent engagement to girlfriend Charlotte (sorry to be the bearer of bad news, ladies). Martin and I spend the rest of the lunch trying to persuade him and Charlotte to take part in TLC’s upcoming wedding commission, Say Yes to the Dress UK.

The week ends with a win! A brand we have been talking to for quite a while has just signed on the dotted line. I’ve been doing this job for years but one thing hasn’t changed; the excitement of doing a deal, now where’s that bell?


Age: 46
Favourite media: Other than TV, its radio with the Sky Sports App a close second.
My biggest inspiration: My brother Simon – a war veteran and successful businessman, but most importantly a truly lovely person.
Dream job: Deck Chair Attendant at Mullins Beach, Barbados
Not a lot of people know this about me: I could damp-proof your house.