Founder and Chairman
John S. Hendricks is the founder and former Chairman of Discovery Communications, the global media parent company of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and Science, among many other television networks and ancillary businesses and brands. Hendricks launched 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.
Hendricks was the driving force behind Discovery Communications’ dramatic growth, including the expansion from its core property, Discovery Channel, to global operations in over 220 countries and territories, with more than 2.5 billion cumulative subscribers, 206 worldwide networks and 49 network entertainment brands when he retired in 2014.
Hendricks took early retirement from Discovery in May 2014 to focus fully on his new venture, CuriosityStream, a leading global factual media company and streaming service. Launched in 2015, CuriosityStream reaches 15 million subscribers in 175 counties through direct subscriptions as well as bundled and distribution partnerships. After completing a successful reverse merger in October 2020, CuriosityStream is now the first publicly-traded streaming media company focused on delivering factual content, and the most distributed ‘pure play’ video streaming service to be publicly listed behind Netflix.
CuriosityStream’s mission is a commitment to Hendricks’s original vision – to empower people around the world to unleash their curiosity. CuriosityStream features thousands of documentary films and series, including award-winning exclusive originals, spanning science, nature, history, technology, society and lifestyle. Titles showcase master experts including Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough, stunning visuals and unrivaled storytelling not found anywhere else.
A visionary in the media industry, 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. 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."
Hendricks holds a B.A. in history (magna cum laude, 1974) and an honorary doctorate (1991) from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
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.