Both will take the title of president and will report to Gerhard Zeiler, Chief Revenue Officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.
While the execs will share the overall duties, each will play to their traditional strengths, with Chang focused on partnerships and digital and Warren emphasizing business and legal affairs and business development. The press release announcing the appointments noted that it reflects the ongoing effort to transform AT&T-owned WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner) from a silo-oriented company to an integrated one.
Distribution is a pivotal area for WarnerMedia as it readies streaming service HBO Max for its launch next spring, which is joining new services from Disney, Apple and NBCUniversal in an effort to slow Netflix’s momentum. At the same time, the task of the distribution group is to forge carriage deals for legacy properties at a time when many pay-TV operators are trying to drive harder bargains with programmers. HBO remains dark on Dish Network nearly a year after hitting a snag in talks with the satellite company, the first carriage dispute to result in a blackout in the premium network’s 47-year history.
Chang and Warren’s purview will include all Turner channels, HBO, Cinemax and HBO Max.
Chang held the previous post of EVP of Global Digital Distribution for HBO, one of many positions she has held since joining HBO in 2000. She has led the transactional digital and physical distribution of HBO and Cinemax programs worldwide. Since 2015, she has been responsible for distributing HBO and Cinemax subscription services on all digital platforms.
Warren has been at the company for 19 years and most recently held the title of president of Turner Content Distribution. He oversaw the company’s multiplatform distribution of linear networks, digital
brands and on-demand content, affiliate marketing, business development, strategic planning and business affairs.
“We will have two hugely experienced leaders who know our business inside out,” Zeiler said in the press release. “Over the last few months I have worked closely with both; Sofia’s experience and success in driving HBO’s digital subscriptions has been of great value as I have looked to understand the U.S. HBO business in greater depth and detail, and Rich has brought his strategic skills to the table as we have sought this way forward. Working together both will provide the strategy and direction needed to enable future growth.”
In a memo to the staff, Zeiler elaborated on the appointments and also identified direct reports to Chang and Warren. Here is the full text of his memo:
Earlier this year I informed you about the interim structure we would be working with and I
promised to keep you updated about the upcoming organizational changes. Meanwhile, you
have seen announcements for our ad sales unit and for our international business. Today I
can tell you how we will work in U.S. distribution.
I am pleased to announce that Sofia Chang and Rich Warren will lead our distribution business, each as President, WarnerMedia Distribution. Both will oversee all Turner channels, HBO, Cinemax, and HBO Max. While Sofia and Rich will work very closely together in all areas, Sofia will especially focus on partnership management and marketing while Rich will have a stronger focus on distribution deals, business & legal affairs, strategic and financial planning, operations and business development.
Sofia and I have worked closely together over the last few months and I’ve found her to be a fantastic support as I have looked to understand the U.S. HBO business in greater depth and detail. I look forward to continuing to work with her.
Sofia has a wealth of experience across the HBO distribution business. She has held several positions in the company since joining HBO in 2000. She has led the transactional digital and physical distribution of HBO and Cinemax programs worldwide and since 2015, she has been responsible for distributing HBO and Cinemax subscription services on all digital platforms. Through her leadership, she has delivered unparalleled results on HBO’s digital subscription business.
Rich and I have worked closely together over the last few months as well and, like Sofia, he has lived up to his reputation of providing fantastic support and leadership. He is transparent, strategic and possesses razor sharp negotiation skills – great strengths to bring to this role. I am delighted that he has accepted the position.
Rich has been at the company for 19 years and has led Turner’s distribution team, where he was responsible for the company’s multiplatform distribution of linear networks, digital brands and on-demand content, affiliate marketing, business development, strategic planning and business and legal affairs. He has been key to the growth and success of Turner’s content distribution with both our traditional and digital partners. Reporting into Sofia will be Jennifer Mirgorod, EVP Partnership Management and Kristen O’Malley, EVP Partner Marketing. Reporting into Rich will be Joe Bahr, SVP Business Development & Partner Operations, Brandt Haynes, EVP Distribution Business Planning /
Strategy & Operations, Scott Miller, EVP Legal & Business Affairs and Donna Northington, EVP Distribution Financial Planning & Strategy. Donna also reports into Trey Turner, EVP and Chief Financial Officer, WarnerMedia Sales & International; Scott also reports into Melissa Roper Barnett, EVP and General Counsel, WarnerMedia Sales &
Bringing together the distribution business is a further example of how we will be collaborating and working as one company. Historically, the two companies on the distribution side, HBO and Turner, have handled their business in isolation from each other. As we look to meet the challenges of the industry head on, this new structure brings together what belongs together. These hugely experienced leaders, both of whom have been with the company for almost two decades, and respective teams will be continuing their careers with WarnerMedia, working together in their close collaboration.
Please join me in congratulating Sofia, Rich and their teams!