Ann Sarnoff, currently the president of BBC Studios Americas, has been named the new chair and CEO of Warner Bros. She will be based in Los Angeles and officially join the company later this summer as its first ever female CEO.
The news revealed Monday comes just more than three months after Kevin Tsujihara exited the post amid a closer investigation by parent company WarnerMedia over alleged misconduct, involving an extramarital affair with an actress and subsequent attempts to help her get roles in studio pictures. (Tsujihara through his attorneys has denied having any direct role in casting the actress.)
The corporation was set to bring in a prominent female in that position, but the speculation centered mainly on vets like Nancy Tellem, Anne Sweeney and Stacey Snider. Sarnoff was a complete surprise and it will be intriguing to see how she puts her stamp on the film and TV production sides of WarnerMedia. In addition to production experience at BBC Studios Americas, Sarnoff also has digital background, which had been high on the list of qualifications during the executive search, having served as board chair of direct-to-consumer platform BritBox
“I am delighted Ann is joining the WarnerMedia team and excited to work side by side with such a talented and accomplished individual,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in a release announcing the hire. “She brings a consistent and proven track record of innovation, creativity and business results to lead an incredibly successful studio to its next chapter of growth. Ann has shown the ability to innovate and grow revenues and has embraced the evolution taking place in our industry. I am confident she will be a great cultural fit for WarnerMedia and that our employees will embrace her leadership, enthusiasm and passion for our business.”
As President of BBC Studios Americas, Sarnoff oversaw the company’s business division in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. She shepherded L.A. Productions, linear and digital program sales and co-productions, home entertainment, and licensing. She also led efforts to grow BBC Studios’ global brands Doctor Who, Top Gear, and the natural history brand BBC Earth.
Sarnoff also is board chair of BritBox, where she has guided the development and growth of the direct-to-consumer service which offers U.S. and Canadian customers the largest collection of British television programming.
“It is a privilege to join a studio with such a storied history,” Sarnoff said. “Warner Bros. has been an industry leader for decades and is known for creating many of the most iconic film, television and gaming properties. I accept this position excited by the opportunity to work with the most accomplished executives and teams in media, and confident about carrying this incredible heritage forward with them.”
During a leadership transition, Warner Bros was managed by an interim team of leaders made up of Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group; Peter Roth, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group; and Kim Williams, EVP & CFO, Warner Bros. All three will now report to Sarnoff.
“I want to thank Toby, Peter and Kim for stepping up during this transition and making sure Warner Bros. didn’t miss a beat,” Stankey said. “Their commitment to delivering operationally and creatively is evident in our results over the last several months. It’s clear that Ann becomes part of a team that is second-to-none.”