Speaker Howard Swartz

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Howard Swartz

Senior Vice President Docs and Specials, Factual Networks & Streaming

Discovery Channel

Howard Swartz is Senior Vice President Docs and Specials, Factual Networks & Streaming, Discovery. In his current role, Swartz is responsible for developing and executing production strategies for documentaries, specials and event programming for both Discovery Channel and the newly launched discovery+.

During his current tenure at Discovery, Swartz has overseen 60+ hours of the network’s most iconic yearly pop-culture event SHARK WEEK. He has managed the nearly 33 -year-old franchise of science and shark conservation through a variety of entertaining programming endeavors including SHARK WEEK’S first ever scripted movie CAPSIZED: BLOOD IN THE WATER in 2019.

Swartz is also responsible for overseeing the media company’s robust natural history slate for both linear and the newly launched discovery+, including the Emmy® nominated SERENGETI series from Simon Fuller and John Downer, which debuted to record-ratings as the highest rated nature documentary in six years. Other natural history projects include the five-part series A PERFECT PLANET, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, MYSTERIOUS PLANET, narrated by David Schwimmer, both of which premiered on discovery+ at launch. He is currently overseeing multiple upcoming landmark series and specials with Silverback Films, John Downer Productions, Plimsoll and also with BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, including the recently launched ENDANGERED, executive produced and narrated by Ellen DeGeneres.

In addition, Swartz has overseen the development and production of several feature documentaries including the critically acclaimed APOCALYPSE ’45. Swartz continues to develop and create documentary specials and series with award-winning filmmakers. Upcoming projects include the six-part wildlife series THE BOND, executive produced by Team Downey and Glen Zipper. Swartz has developed and launched UNDISCOVERED, a new strand of documentaries, which explore some of our greatest mysteries, potentially rewriting the history books along the way. Recent titles in that strand include MURDER HORNETS, THE LOST LINCOLN, and EVEREST’S GREATEST MYSTERY.

Prior to his return to Discovery, Swartz was Arrow Media’s Executive Vice President of Development and Production, based out of their London office, where he helped to expand the company’s robust U.S. slate. His projects spanned several networks, including Science Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. 

Swartz previously served as Vice President, Documentaries and Specials for Discovery Channel where he oversaw high-profile global specials, including Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda, which was the highest-rated live event in Discovery Channel history. He also was
responsible for Discovery’s landmark Emmy® nominated science series Curiosity, which looked to answer one question in science, technology and society in each episode.

Before joining Discovery in 2011, Swartz was Executive Producer at PBS’ acclaimed science series NOVA where he received the prestigious Alfred I. DuPont Award as well as an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award. Prior to NOVA, Swartz was with the National Geographic Channel, where he oversaw signature series Explorer and executive produced more than 100 programs, including Emmy®-winners Five Years on Mars Inside Living Body and Incredible Human Machine.

Speaking on: Booming doc market: what’s next for high-end factual features and limited series?

At the Banff Media Festival, we met with Netflix and took a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. That’s where we made the pitch.
- Naveen Prasad, EVP and GM, Elevation Pictures

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