New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is putting his stamp on the company via a big reorganization, with Warner Bros. chief Ann Sarnoff taking oversight of all network, film and TV studio and streaming assets. Leaving WarnerMedia are Bob Greenblatt, Chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer; Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV; as well as Keith Cocozza, EVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications.
In addition to the elevation of Sarnoff as the new company’s head of all content, the restructuring includes expanded responsibilities for HBO’s Casey Bloys as WarnerMedia is streamlining the content side of the business, as well as Andy Forssell. The realignment will be accompanied by a round of layoffs, Kilar revealed.
Warner Bros. Chair and CEO Sarnoff will be leading a newly created Studios and Networks Group, adding HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV to her existing portfolio. Bloys, President HBO Programming, will also oversee original content for HBO Max and the domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV. He will report to Sarnoff.
The departures leave HBO Max’s head of original content Sarah Aubrey as the highest-level creative executive at the streamer. She is expected to stay in the new structure, reporting to Bloys.
Sarnoff has TV network and streaming expires from her stints at Nickelodeon and more recently BBC Worldwide where she launched streamer Britbox.
Forssell, General Manager of HBO Max, will now be leading a newly created HBO Max operating business, reporting to Kilar, indicating that Kilar is taking a hands-on role at the platform.
The move comes four months after Kilar was named to the top WarnerMedia post and two months after the launch of HBO Max.
Speculation about the future of Turner veteran Reilly, who has three more years on his contract, has been swirling after he reportedly recently met with NBCU CEO Jeff Shell. NBCU yesterday unveiled a major restructure and consolidation of its TV and streaming group.
Greenblatt joined WarnerMedia in April 2019. Reilly has been at Turner since 2014, originally overseeing TNT and TBS before adding HBO Max programming oversight.
With the restructuring, “will be reducing the size of our teams, our layers, and our overall workforce,” Kilar said in the memo about the layoffs, expected to start on Monday. “These reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the people impacted nor their work. It is simply a function of the above changes.”
Kilar described the reorganization as “our leaning into this great moment of change.” The new elements in the restructuring as laid out by Kilar are:
Kilar’s comments underscore the importance of HBO Max for the AT&T-owned company. The streaming platform had what AT&T CEO John Stankey called a “flawless” launch on May 27, though plenty of consumers, investors and critics would differ from his assessment. Last month, AT&T said the service had drawn 4.1 million sign-ups in its first month, putting it on track to reach its five-year target of 50 million subscribers in the U.S. and 75-90 million globally. One hurdle in the early going has been a lack of distribution deals with Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Hampered by the coronavirus-related shutdown, HBO Max is yet to release a signature breakout show.
Jason Kilar just announced the changes to WarnerMedia employees:
It has been a little over 90 days since I joined the mission and the team. These past three months have exceeded my already high expectations. As I shared with you recently, my bullishness about our future has only grown as I have gotten to know you much better and as I have gotten to know our company much better. As some of you may recall, I shared three thoughts with you on my first day email:
That history was filled with examples of special entrepreneurial companies that leaned into moments of great change in order to better serve customers. That our taking smart and bold risks is so important to the road ahead. My belief that missionary companies ultimately shine…and my strong belief that ours is a team filled with missionaries.
With the above as context, I’d like to share some decisions I am announcing today that represent our leaning into this great moment of change, in order to better serve our customers. These changes, which are neither timid nor without risk, are possible in part because we are missionaries that ultimately believe we can and will change the world through story. That is what this all comes back to.
Because of the gift that is the internet, we have what I believe is one of the greatest opportunities in the history of media, which is to deliver our beloved stories and experiences directly to hundreds of millions of consumers across the globe. Earning this ambitious future won’t come easy. To do so, I believe it is vital that we change how we are organized, that we simplify, and that we act boldly and with urgency. The pandemic’s economic pressures and acceleration of direct-to-consumer streaming adoption places an even higher premium on these points.
To accomplish this, we are going to do the following:
Andy Forssell, General Manager of HBO Max, will now be leading a newly created HBO Max operating business unit and report to me. Andy and his team will be responsible for the product, marketing, consumer engagement and global rollout of HBO Max.
Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. Chair and CEO, will be leading our newly created Studios and Networks Group, combining original production (content studios) and programming capabilities currently spread across Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV. This group will oversee all WarnerMedia television series and motion picture development, production and programming, partnering with Andy to ensure HBO Max is successful globally.
Casey Bloys, President HBO Programming, will also be taking on original content responsibilities for HBO Max and the domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Casey will report to Ann. Casey and the HBO team have done an incredible job over the last several decades delighting consumers with HBO original programming and I am excited for Casey and this expanded team to have an even greater impact on the world.
The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group continues to be led by Chairman Toby Emmerich. Warner Bros. Television Studios group continues to be led by Chairman Peter Roth. Warner Bros. Interactive remains part of the Studios and Networks group, along with our Global Brands and Franchises team including DC led by Pam Lifford, and our Kids, Young Adults and Classics business led by Tom Ascheim, all focused on engaging fans with our brands and franchises through games and other interactive experiences.
Gerhard Zeiler, currently Chief Revenue Officer, will now be leading a newly integrated international group comprised of the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Networks. This group will be responsible for local execution of all WarnerMedia linear businesses, commercial activities, and regional programming for HBO Max.
Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter and a key leader of HBO Max, will lead the new commercial unit that combines the U.S. advertising sales and distribution groups with our home entertainment and content licensing so that all commercial activities are strategically managed across internal and external customers.
Christy Haubegger, Chief Enterprise Inclusion Officer, will now also oversee the global marketing and communications team including branding and corporate social responsibility, as we bring together all of our efforts around equity and inclusion throughout our business.
Jeff Zucker continues as Chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports. Pascal Desroches (CFO), Rich Tom (CTO), Jim Cummings (CHRO), Priya Dogra (EVP, Strategy and Corporate Development) and Jim Meza (EVP, General Counsel) continue to report to me.
Simplifying our approach and narrowing our focus goes beyond, for example, having one content organization vs two. It also means that we will be reducing the size of our teams, our layers, and our overall workforce. These reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the people impacted nor their work. It is simply a function of the above changes I believe are necessary for WarnerMedia and our collective ability to best serve customers. This is the part that is painful and very hard. It is difficult to find the appropriate words here to say other than that I am very sorry. These are talented, admired leaders and beloved colleagues.
Three of those talented, admired leaders who will be leaving the company are Bob Greenblatt, Kevin Reilly and Keith Cocozza. I want to thank Bob and Kevin for getting us to this point with the integration of HBO and the legacy Turner Networks and launch of HBO Max. It has been such an impressive sequence of events, and we are so much better for it. I also owe a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks to Keith, for not only helping me navigate these last few months at the company – and with the media – but more importantly for his 19 years at the company through its evolution. I have never met a kinder, more collaborative executive in my career. I can’t wait to see how each of these leaders change the world in the years to come.
I realize this is a lot to take in. And none of us should expect the above changes to be easy. That said, we are successfully navigating a pandemic together and I know that, however challenging the above changes may be, we will also successfully navigate them as well. As each of you take some time to digest the above, I hope that you become more and more energized by how, together, we are boldly leaning into the future and this historic opportunity that is right in front of us. It is an honor to be on this team with each of you.
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