- WarnerMedia has launched HBO Max, its new flagship
streaming-video service that will be the online home of all its
entertainment brands, from DC to HBO and Cartoon
The streaming debut came after a nearly two-year
executive shakeup that started when AT&T exec John Stankey
began integrating the entertainment company into the broader
telecom in June 2018, and concluded in May when CEO Jason
Kilar stepped into the top job at the media
- With Stankey rising to become AT&T’s CEO, Kilar and
his senior leadership team will be shaping WarnerMedia’s future
from here on out, including the critical launch of HBO
- Business Insider identified the 20 most powerful execs
at WarnerMedia and their roles, as well as their 28 top
Click here for more BI Prime
On Wednesday, WarnerMedia released its new flagship
streaming-video service, HBO Max. The debut cements a new era at
the entertainment company, which was acquired by AT&T in June
2018, and has since moved to make streaming a larger part of its
HBO Max’s release comes after nearly two years worth of
high-profile executive moves that culminated earlier this month
with a changing of the guards, in which John Stankey, the seasoned
AT&T executive tasked with integrating Time Warner into the
broader telecom, stepped down as CEO of WarnerMedia and Jason Kilar
assumed the mantle.
Kilar, who was Hulu’s founding chief, now leads the
entertainment giant that encompasses Warner Bros., DC
Entertainment, HBO, CNN, and Turner’s TV channels, and the
streaming-video service HBO Max.
Stankey, who is also AT&Ts chief operating officer, will
oversee WarnerMedia from his perch atop AT&T, when he rises to
chief executive on July 1.
Business Insider recently identified the 20 of most powerful
people at WarnerMedia, as well as their 28 top deputies.
The list includes Kilar; seasoned TV executives like Robert
Greenblatt and Ann Sarnoff, who are overseeing WarnerMedia’s
entertainment brands and Warner Bros., respectively; as well as CNN
boss Jeff Zucker.
The new guard’s first big task is establishing HBO Max, one of
legacy media’s last big streaming entrants, as a true competitor to
Netflix. The new service aims to rival Netflix with programming for
all audiences and the backing of HBO’s premium-TV brand. HBO Max is
hoping to reshape the streaming experience by relying on a mix
of on editorial curation and data to make recommendations than
The platform has a lot to live up to, after Disney Plus
shattered early launch expectations and reached 50 million paid
subscribers in five months.
says it’s aiming for 50 million US subscribers by 2025. By
comparison, HBO had 43 million US subscribers as of December,
across digital and linear. Some of those viewers will get access to
HBO Max with their existing subscriptions, which could bolster the
service at launch.
But the WarnerMedia execs are also rolling out HBO Max while
grappling with the TV and film production shutdowns and suspension
of live sports that has hamstrung much of the entertainment
industry in recent weeks.
The pandemic also curtailed some of HBO Max’s marketing plans,
and the company has been
working to drum up interest online among people who are staying
AT&T is still under pressure to prove to investors that the
$85 billion acquisition of Time Warner was worth it.
These are the key executives to watch at WarnerMedia and its
four main divisions, which include WarnerMedia Entertainment and
Direct-to-Consumer (the unit responsible for HBO, Turner channels
like TBS, HBO Max, and Otter Media); WarnerMedia News and Sports
(which includes CNN and Turner Sports); Warner Bros.’ TV and film
studios; and the Sales and International arm.
This post has been updated to reflect HBO Max’s launch.
Jason Kilar â€” CEO, WarnerMedia
Jason Kilar reigns over WarnerMedia’s sprawling media empire,
which spans Warner Bros. TV and film businesses; cable networks
like CNN and HBO; entertainment brands like DC Entertainment and
Turner Sports; and ad-tech arm, Xandr.
His appointment on May 1 was one of the last pieces of
WarnerMedia’s leadership puzzle to be put in place.
Kilar brings with him a wealth of digital experience to
complement other WarnerMedia leaders like Bob Greenblatt, Ann
Sarnoff, and Jeff Zucker, who all came from traditional TV and film
He was Hulu’s founding CEO, helping its legacy-media owners
stake a claim in and create business models for streaming video. In
2013, he left to cofound and lead short-form video startup Vessel,
which was acquired by Verizon in an attempt to revive its
now-shuttered mobile-video unit, Go90.
Kilar also spent about nine years at Amazon before his Hulu
days, in various roles including senior vice president of worldwide
At WarnerMedia, Kilar’s first big tasks will be overseeing the
launch of HBO Max, as well as helping the company recover from the
current suspension of live sports, TV and film production
shutdowns, and movie theater closures, which
dragged down sales last quarter.
He’s being supported by the execs on this list, as well as:
Keith Cocozza, EVP, corporate marketing and
communications, who has been with WarnerMedia since the Time Warner
days, and worked in communications at Time Warner Cable before it
was spun off.
Jim Cumming, EVP & chief human resources
officer, who has been with the company for about 10 years and is
working across all of its divisions.
Priya Dogra, EVP, strategy and corporate
development, who also came from Time Warner and is now focused on
the company’s long-term strategy, particularly for its
Christy Haubegger, chief enterprise inclusion
officer, who joined WarnerMedia in 2019 from Creative Artists
Agency to make sure the company is both speaking to diverse
audiences and has a representative workforce.
Jim Meza, EVP & general counsel, the
former AT&T exec who led the company’s defense against the US
Department of Justice lawsuit to block its deal to buy Time
Robert Greenblatt â€” Chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and
Robert Greenblatt, chair of WarnerMedia’s entertainment and
direct-to-consumer divisions, was CEO John Stankey’s first big hire
after telecom AT&T took the reins at the legacy media company
Greenblatt, who joined WarnerMedia in 2019, is leading the
company’s highest-profile initiative.
He is in charge of getting HBO Max off the ground, as well as
overseeing the company’s legacy TV businesses including HBO and the
Turner networks, and the collection of digital media brands that
operate under the Otter Media umbrella.
A seasoned TV exec, Greenblatt spent eight years as chairman of
NBC Entertainment before WarnerMedia. He helped revive the
broadcast network’s primetime lineup with shows like “The Voice,”
“This Is Us,” and “The Good Place,” and pushed the channel to the
top of the broadcast-rating ranks with 18 to 49-year-olds, Variety reported. He also drove Showtime’s move into
original programming, with series like “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and
“Californication.” And he was a key programming exec at Fox
Broadcasting in the 1990s.
Greenblatt joined WarnerMedia just as other top execs, some of
whom served at the company for decades, headed for the exit. They included former HBO boss Richard
Plepler, former Turner chief David Levy, and former Warner Bros.
lead Kevin Tsujihara (who stepped down amid an investigation into
his relationship with an actress last year).
It’s Greenblatt’s vision, along with Stankey’s, that we’ll see
in HBO Max.
Read more about the key figures leading at HBO Max:
Meet the 12 power players running HBO Max, AT&T’s big bet to
take on Netflix and Disney Plus
Greenblatt is also supported by key execs including:
Kevin Brockman, EVP, global communications,
who joined WarnerMedia after a long career at Disney.
Jessica Holscott, EVP & chief financial
officer, who was HBO’s financial chief before taking on the
Cheryl Idell, EVP & chief research
officer, who joined from Snap.
Chris Spadaccini â€” CMO, WarnerMedia Entertainment
Chris Spadaccini leads marketing for WarnerMedia Entertainment.
He’s in charge of redefining the HBO Max, HBO, TBS, TNT, and truTV
brands, and reports up to Greenblatt.
Spadaccini has been positioning HBO Max as a place where iconic
TV shows and movies, across all these entertainment brands,
The platform’s roll out will be a test for the well-respected
marketing exec, who previously helped turn HBO into one of the most
iconic entertainment brands on TV.
Spadaccini had to ditch his planned three-month marketing blitz
for HBO Max that would have included tie-ins to marquee events like
March Madness, opening weekend of the MLB season, and the Met Gala,
because those events were canceled or postponed due to the
HBO Max’s brand campaign only kicked off in earnest on April 22,
little more than a month before the platform’s debut.
Before taking on the top marketing job at WarnerMedia
Entertainment, Spadaccini had led HBO’s marketing since 2016. He
held a top brand and marketing position at the network before that,
in which he helped launch in 2015 HBO Now, the brand’s first
standalone streaming subscription. Spadaccini also drove many brand
pushes and marketing campaigns for shows like “Game of Thrones” and
Business Insider named Spadaccini
one of the 25 most innovative CMOs of 2019 for his work
bringing elements of “Game of Thrones” in various real-life
Kevin Reilly â€” Chief Content Officer, HBO Max; President, TNT,
Former Turner exec Kevin Reilly has HBO Max’s top content
As chief content officer, Reilly is responsible for all the
original programming heading to the service, and the licensing
deals the company is striking to fill out its library with movies
and TV classics, like “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
He’s working alongside HBO’s programming president, Casey Bloys,
who will also funnel programming that airs on HBO to HBO Max, like
Joss Whedon’s upcoming science-fiction series “The Nevers” and
David E. Kelley’s “The Undoing,” with Nicole Kidman and Hugh
Reilly’s team is trying to strike a balance between reaching the
core HBO audience that’s over 40, and younger crowds who are more
accustomed to streaming. They’ve been pursuing original series
geared toward young adults, kids and families, and adults with a
focus on women. They’re also going after high-profile dramas and
comedies, like a revivals of classic shows like “Gossip Girl” and
“The Boondocks,” as well as top creators with close ties to
WarnerMedia, such as JJ Abrams and Greg Berlanti.
But heading into HBO Max’s launch, Reilly’s biggest hurdle might
be making sure there’s enough content consistently hitting the
service during its crucial first year, given recent TV and film
A “Friends” reunion special that was supposed to be available on
HBO Max at launch has been delayed, and productions like the
upcoming drama “Flight Attendant” are on hold.
HBO Max had 31 original series slated for 2020 and 50 due out
the following year. The company has not yet updated those
Reilly is also continuing to lead the Turner cable channels, as
president of TBS, TNT, and truTV.
Before his Turner days, Reilly held top roles at major TV
networks including Fox, FX, and NBC. He oversaw the launch of shows
like “Glee,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and “Empire” at Fox, and
championed series like “The Office” at NBC. And, as president of
TNT and TBS, and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment, he
spearheaded an effort to cut back on the number of commercials in
Casey Bloys â€” President, HBO Programming
Casey Bloys is the creative force driving HBO as it tries to
make more of the premium-TV shows its known for, even as rivals
like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix race to beat it at its own
As programming president, Bloys oversees the development and
production of HBO’s original series, movies, and documentaries.
He’s been given
a bigger budget to do that with in 2019 and 2020.
Bloys, who joined HBO in 2004, came up at the cable network as a
programming exec under former chief executive Richard Plepler who
led HBO during an era that included cultural hits like “Game of
Thrones,” “Veep,” and “Boardwalk Empire.”
promoted to programming chief in 2016, after helping bring in a
string of comedy hits like “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” and “Last Week
With John Oliver.”
He’s since helped develop dramas like “Westworld” and
“Watchmen,” and oversaw HBO’s juggernaut “Game of Thrones.”
Since Plepler departed HBO in 2019, Bloys has been leading the
network alongside Glenn Whitehead, who handles business and legal
affairs. Bloys has continued to pursuing boundary-pushing series
like the racy teen drama “Euphoria,” and “Run,” a dark comedy from
“Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And he’s on the hunt for
the network’s next smash hit. He currently has a “Game of Thrones”
prequel, called “House of Dragon,” in the works for 2022.
Bloys also oversees original programming for Cinemax, which has
struggled in the last year as pay-TV distributors stopped
bundling it with HBO.
Glenn Whitehead â€” EVP, HBO Business and Legal Affairs
While Casey Bloys searches for HBO’s next “Games of Thrones,”
Glenn Whitehead is his counterpart steering the broader
Whitehead knows HBO’s business more intimately than perhaps any
other executive at the company.
He’s been with HBO since its early days, and
remained with the company while other veterans like Quentin
Schaffer, Nancy Lesser, and Plepler departed after the AT&T
Over the past decade, Whitehead has been instrumental to
coproduction and distribution deals that helped HBO land larger
scale and international projects.
Tony Goncalves â€” CEO, Otter Media
Greenblatt turned to a trusted AT&T digital exec to build
the HBO Max platform.
Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media, helped develop the platform,
on top of his work leading Otter Media’s digital properties. He
reports to Greenblatt.
Goncalves was brought in to lend his streaming expertise to the
service last May, as his Otter Media group moved under Greenblatt’s
oversight at WarnerMedia.
Goncalves first joined AT&T through its 2015 acquisition of
DirecTV, where he served as a longtime exec overseeing the
satellite-TV operator’s digital efforts, including its TV
Everywhere and over-the-top platforms, among other roles.
He rose in the ranks under the phone company. He was CEO of
AT&T’s digital brands, where he oversaw the relationship
between AT&T and The Chernin Group, which operated Otter Media
as a joint venture until AT&T bought full control in 2018.
And he led the launch strategy for DirecTV Now (now AT&T TV
Now), which was the company’s last major digital-TV initiative. The
linear streaming service got off to a solid start in 2016, but lost
subscribers as programming costs ballooned, discounts were nixed in
an effort to become profitable, and AT&T shifted its focus in
2020 to a pricier internet-based offering that is more akin to
traditional pay-TV services.
Andy Forssell â€” EVP & GM, WarnerMedia and Direct-to-Consumer
Andy Forssell is serving as executive vice president and general
manager of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer businesses, which
encompasses both OtterMedia and HBO Max.
Forssell has been managing much of the day-to-day development
for HBO Max product, reporting to Goncalves.
He was most recently the chief operating officer at Otter Media,
where insiders told Business Insider he was a key liaison between
upper management and the individual brands like Crunchyroll,
Rooster Teeth, and DC Universe.
Forssell joined Otter Media from its subsidiary Fullscreen,
where he had been its chief operating officer. He was also a top
player at Hulu for six years, where he held a number of roles,
including acting CEO in 2013.
Ann Sarnoff â€” Chair & CEO, Warner Bros.
Ann Sarnoff moved into the top job at Warner Bros. in 2019,
becoming the iconic studio’s first woman chief and one of the
rare Hollywood outsiders chosen to lead it.
She replaced former studio chief, Kevin Tsujihara,
who stepped down amid an investigation into his relationship
with an actress last year.
While well-known in entertainment circles, Sarnoff hadn’t run a
major film studio before relocating from New York to Los Angeles to
run Warner Bros. She brings more operational and TV prowess, having
spent nine years at BBC, most recently as president of BBC Studios
America where she helped grow viewership for franchises like
“Doctor Who” and “BBC Earth.” She also served for stints at Dow
Jones and the WNBA, as well as for about a decade in various roles
Now, Sarnoff is out to
prove that the traditional TV and film studio can evolve for
the digital age.
In her first year in the job, she
formed a new film label to produce mid-budget movies for HBO
She also made a few key appointments, including naming
Tom Ascheim from Disney’s Freeform to an expansive
role leading global kids, young adults, and classics. It includes
oversight of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang, as well as
Warner Bros. Animation and Turner Classic Movies.
Some of Sarnoff’s top deputies include Warner Bros. veterans and
Johanna Fuentes, EVP, worldwide corporate
communications and public affairs, Warner Bros., who is joining
from Showtime on May 4.
John Rogovin, EVP & general counsel, who
has been with the studio for about 10 years, and has led the legal
strategy for properties including “Superman, “The Hobbit,” “The
Lord of the Rings.”
Kiko Washington, EVP, worldwide human
resources, Warner Bros., who has held that post since 2009 and
spent most of his career at Warner Bros. and HBO.
Toby Emmerich â€” Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group
Toby Emmerich has been guiding Warner Bros. film studios since
2017, through AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and the
division’s 2019 leadership shakeup.
During that time, Warner Bros. marked its
strongest year at the box office in 2018, thanks to
international success like “Aquaman,” “A Star Is Born,” and “The
Meg,” as well as zeitgeist-hitting films including “Crazy Rich
But the studio’s 2019 slate was
marred by more flops and disappointments, like “Doctor Sleep”
and “The Goldfinch,” than hits like “Joker.”
Emmerich’s 2020 schedule might’ve made for a banner year for the
studio, if not for widespread movie-theater closures that have
stunted releases like “Birds of Prey,” sent “Scoob!” straight to
delayed highly-anticipated films like “Wonder Woman: 1984,” and
pushed releases like “In The Heights” indefinitely.
Emmerich â€” who oversees Warner Bros. theatrical production,
marketing, and distribution businesses, as well as
home-entertainment operations â€” will have to get film production
back on track and rearrange the release schedule.
Emmerich has held various leadership roles at Warner Bros. since
1992. He oversaw movies like “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the
King,” “The Hobbit” trilogy, “The Notebook,” “Wedding Crashers,”
Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News
Meet the 20 most powerful WarnerMedia execs and their top
deputies. Here are the leaders who will help HBO Max battle Netflix
and define AT&T's TV future. (T)