By Jonathan Easton
AT&T-owned WarnerMedia will undergo a major executive restructuring around HBO Max with Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly both leaving the company.
While analysts panned the launch of the streamer, its total of four million subscribers in a little over three months has seemingly been enough for the company to place prioritising the premium SVOD at the heart of a series of changes in its management line-up.
This marks the first major executive change under newly appointed WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who was one of the key minds behind Hulu, and also comes with news of redundancies for lower level staff for the sake of streamlining the business.
In a memo sent to staff, Kilar said that his brief stint with the company had exceeded his expectations and confirmed that WarnerMedia is “elevating HBO Max in the organisation and expanding its scope globally.”
Greenblatt and Reilly oversaw the launch of the streamer and Kilar thanked them “for getting us to this point with the integration of HBO and the legacy Turner Networks and launch of HBO Max.”
Also departing is Keith Cocozza, EVP of corporate marketing and communications.
The most senior name receiving a new position is Andy Forssell, general manager of HBO Max, who will lead the newly created HBO Max operating business unit. Previously, HBO Max was just included within the HBO segment of WarnerMedia, with this move elevating it to be a separate entity.
Forssell’s group will be responsible for all aspects of product, marketing and consumer engagement for HBO Max, along with its global rollout.
There are also a number of changes in regards to content, with Warner Bros. chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff leading a new Studios and Networks Group which combines original production and programming for its movie and TV.
Within this group, HBO programming president Casey Bloys will be charged with also overseeing content production for HBO Max, along with domestic linear networks TNT, TBS, and TruT. The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group remains unchanged under chairman Toby Emmerich.
Current chief revenue officer Gerhard Zeiler will lead a new group made up of the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Networks, which will “be responsible for local execution of all WarnerMedia linear businesses, commercial activities, and regional programming for HBO Max.”
Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves, who appeared on stage at the reveal of HBO Max in 2019, will lead a new commercial unit which combines US ad sales and distribution groups with home entertainment and content licensing.
The final change is chief enterprise inclusion officer Christy Haubegger being tasked with global marketing and communications.
Kilar justified the shakeup and layoffs, saying: “Simplifying our approach and narrowing our focus goes beyond, for example, having one content organisation vs two.
“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.”
WarnerMedia saw Q2 operating revenue at US$6.8 billion. This was a year-over-year drop of 22.9 per cent. Operating income was at US$1.9 billion, down 18.4 per cent year-over-year.
The company identified that the ongoing pandemic had cost it US$1.5 billion in lower sales, with ad revenue at Turner dropping by 37 per cent to US$796 million. https://www.digitaltveurope.com