WarnerMedia Eyes Global Footprint; Names Giorgio Stock President of Europe, Middle East Operations

WarnerMedia Aug. 2 announced the appointment of Giorgio Stock to the new role of President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Distribution and Advertising Sales, EMEA and APAC.

With immediate effect, Stock, previously President, EMEA, for Turner, takes on responsibility for all entertainment networks, distribution of all networks, advertising sales and the kids networks operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

Stock will continue to be based in London and reports into Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler.

Giorgio Stock

In his new role, Stock will be supported by the leadership team of Ricky Ow, President Turner Asia Pacific, Hervé Payan, CEO HBO Europe, and Jonathan Spink, CEO HBO Asia, all of whom now report into him.

“In his previous role as President, Turner EMEA, Giorgio transformed the organization and built a strong team who together invested in excellent premium content, created new revenue streams and optimized business operations,” Zeiller said.

The appointment represents WarnerMedia’s decision to give Europe and Middle Eastern operations singular leadership through the existing strengths of the Turner and HBO businesses, while also equipping them for further collaboration and growth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In addition to Stock, the international executives reporting to Zeiler are Whit Richardson, President Turner Latin America, and Rani Raad, President CNNI Commercial.

Stock joined the company in 2013 as President Turner EMEA with executive oversight of all Turner kids and entertainment networks in the region, including digital and media services of core brands such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT and TCM as well as kids streaming service Toonix, available direct-to-consumer and via a partnership with HBO Nordic, the network’s over-the-top video service .

His role also included the distribution of CNN’s services, and licensing and merchandising activity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as international L&M liaison.

Stock joined Turner after a 15-year career with Disney where he held publishing and content leadership roles out of Paris, New York, Milan and London overseeing television, publishing, retail, music and gaming.

 

 

 

WarnerMedia Hires First Diversity/Inclusion Officer

WarnerMedia June 12 announced the hiring of Christy Haubegger as the media company’s first chief enterprise inclusion officer.

Haubegger, who spent 14 years at Creative Artists Agency, reports directly to CEO John Stankey and works with senior management to drive business growth through strategic investment in diverse audiences and to ensure the organization’s workforce is representative of the markets it serves.

Christy Haubegger

“As we transform our businesses and our culture, we see a unique opportunity to generate outsize growth by delivering world-class content that engages underserved audiences,” Stankey said in a statement. “To realize that opportunity we must make strategic investments, build a more representative workforce, and create a truly inclusive culture.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Created with AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, WarnerMedia says it want to recognize diversity and inclusion as business imperatives.

The company claims to use its best efforts to ensure diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.

At CAA, Haubegger spearheaded representation of women and people of color, and helped transformed the diversity of the workforce.

The talent agency has long focused on innovation through diversity and implemented strategies to create sustainable change within the agency and beyond.

Under Haubegger’s leadership, CAA launched “CAA Amplify,” an invitation-only annual event convening high-level multicultural artists and leaders, as well as the industry’s first searchable database of television writers of color.

During her tenure, the agency grew its diverse roster more than 1400% and according to USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the agency now represents the largest share of female directors and African- American directors in the motion picture business.

“Christy Haubegger is one of a kind. She is a talented and visionary leader who made a transformational impact on the agency throughout her tenure,” said CAA president Richard Lovett. “She influenced our business and culture, and established CAA as a leader in the promotion of inclusion, creating initiatives that support and advance underrepresented voices. We remain steadfast in our commitment to moving our industry forward and are thrilled to continue working collaboratively with Christy in her new role.”

WarnerMedia Entertainment to Boycott Georgia Should Anti-Abortion Ban Become Law

WarnerMedia Entertainment May 30 joined Disney and Netflix in pledging to withdraw movie and TV show productions from Georgia should the state’s new anti-abortion law go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Brian Kemp May 8 signed legislation outlawing women from terminating their pregnancy six weeks after becoming pregnant. Georgia currently bans abortions after 20 weeks.

“We operate and produce work in many states and within many countries at any given time and while that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” WarnerMedia said in a media statement. “We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds, we will reconsider Georgia as the home of any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine where and how to shoot any given project.”

In addition to CNN and Turner in Atlanta, WarnerMedia has significant content production in Georgia, which has been home to a hotbed of film and TV production for years due to generous tax incentives.

TNT’s ‘I Am the Night’ Coming to DVD June 11

TNT’s six-episode miniseries I Am the Night will arrive on DVD June 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The finale airs on TNT March 5.

Inspired by true events, ​​I Am the Night​ tells the story of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a teenage girl who is given away at birth, and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. One day, makes a discovery that leads her to question her origins, and during her investigation she meets a disgraced reporter (Chris Pine), and together they uncover a sinister trail leading them to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist (Jefferson Mays), who may be involved with Hollywood’s most infamous unsolved crime.

The miniseries was directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Sam Sheridan.

The DVD will include the documentary “Myths from Inside the Sowden House,” an 18-minute look into The Black Dahlia killings and the house where it all began.

 

Report: Warner’s Tsujihara Still Keen on Premium VOD

Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara again pushed the idea of early home access for consumers that want theatrical movies sooner — oft termed premium VOD.

“Clearly we want the theatrical experience to continue and to maintain that incredible social experience,” he told the Los Angeles Times Feb. 27, noting that Crazy Rich Asians “got into the zeitgeist,” which is “very difficult to do on a streaming service.”

But he said that early home access is part of the evolution of content delivery.

“If consumers want to be able to experience it in the home sooner, then they should have that option as well,” he said. “That’s where we’d like to see the movie business go.”

As far as the new direct-to-consumer streaming service coming from parent company AT&T, Tsujihara told the Times that the studio’s content will go to that platform as well as linear, current customers.

“It’s about finding the right platform for the content,” he told the Times. “Some will go to HBO, some will go to Turner, some will go to Netflix, and other streaming platforms, and some will go to the direct-to-consumer platform.”

He also commented on the promise of 5G.

“It actually could have a significant impact on our ability to deliver content,” he told the Times.

He said 5G would “turbocharge” the ability to deliver VR and AR experiences.

Appeals Court Denies DOJ Bid to Block AT&T’s $85 Billion Time Warner Purchase

A federal appeals court Feb. 26 ruled against the Justice Department’s attempt to block AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which led to the formation of WarnerMedia.

The court found that a lower court judge’s decision last summer approving of the transaction did not violate antitrust guidelines.

“The judgment of the district court appealed from this cause is hereby affirmed,” the court wrote in its ruling.

The Justice Department had argued that the merger would enable AT&T, which also owns DirecTV, to leverage its stake in the satellite operator to force pay-TV competitors to pay more for content from Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, which includes CNN.

Some observers speculated the government’s attempt to block the deal revolved more around President Trump’s openly hostile approach to CNN, which he has labeled “fake news,” and, along with other media outlets not named Fox News, an “enemy of the people.”

Indeed, the DOJ’s legal challenges represented the first to a corporate vertical merger in four years.

 

WarnerMedia Launching Tech/Content Incubator

WarnerMedia Jan. 22 announced plans to launch WarnerMedia Innovation Lab, an incubator that will combine emerging technologies with content from HBO, Warner Bros., Turner and Otter Media, to create new consumer experiences and businesses.

The New York-based lab is designed to forge collaborations across WarnerMedia business units and corporate parent AT&T, as well as between key corporate partners and developers of emerging new technologies.

In an era of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and emerging ad-supported VOD, studios and content creators are looking not only at direct-to-consumer distribution, but content licensing deals and original productions for proprietary brands and third parties.

For example, WarnerMedia just renewed a streaming distribution deal with Netflix for reruns of “Friends,” while earning two indirect Golden Globe awards for “The Kominsky Method,” which it created for Netflix.

“Our goal is to accelerate innovation around how our content can thrive and grow within emerging formats and platforms,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in a statement. “By taking advantage of AT&T’s technological capabilities we are literally creating a next-generation playground for our creative, tech and strategy executives and key business partners.”

The innovation lab will meld core competencies in areas ranging from the “Internet of Things” (IoT), AI and machine learning to virtual reality and mixed reality with WarnerMedia’s IP and creative talent.

Initial areas of exploration are expected to include AT&T’s 5G infrastructure offerings to develop, deliver and deploy new immersive consumer content experiences in the form of AR/VR/MR/gaming offerings, enhancing real-time interactivity and connectivity.

The lab will also look to combine data and insights from across AT&T’s more than 300 million direct-to-consumer relationships across wireless, video and broadband services with WarnerMedia’s premiere and engaging content, in order to harness the potential of dynamic content, innovative advertising formats and delivery using Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning research.

One of WarnerMedia’s initial partners will be the NBA. Together, they plan to explore areas including utilizing AT&T’s IoT infrastructure, connected car partners and connected environments across stadiums, airports and cities to re-imagine localized content and fan experiences, as well as utilizing a vast array of creative talent to bring the immersive game experience beyond the court.

“We are always exploring what is next for sports media and what it means for the future NBA experience,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “This collaboration with WarnerMedia will help identify cutting edge ways to use technology to deliver more immersive experiences to NBA fans.”

Turner, a division of WarnerMedia, and the NBA have routinely driven innovation within the industry by providing fans with novel and engaging experiences. The two organizations will collaborate to further help shape the future of the consumer experience around live sports and entertainment.

Turner and the NBA jointly-manage NBA Digital, the league’s cross-platform portfolio of digital assets, including NBA TV, the NBA app, NBA.com, NBA League Pass and NBAGLeague.com.

Additionally, the Lab will foster further collaboration with WarnerMedia’s Turner division and Xandr, AT&T’s new advertising company. Together, Xandr and Turner are working together to redefine the consumer advertising experience and improve the relevancy of advertising, fueled by data and content connections.

The lab will be led by Jesse Redniss, who will add to his responsibilities as Turner’s EVP of data strategy and product innovation. A marketing and creative product development veteran, Redniss will oversee the lab’s creative priorities and objectives.

“The future of consumer experience will be personalized, both participatory and passive at the same time, while also dynamic based on how viewers want to receive and engage within their media content journey,” said Redniss.

He will work with operating executives across all AT&T’s entities and will be responsible for identifying partners in the creative, emerging technology, agency and consumer brand worlds.

Existing projects include Turner’s VR short film for TBS’ “Final Space,” a partnership between Warner Bros. and Magic Leap to develop a mixed reality theatrical trailer experience for blockbuster Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and a partnership between Warner Bros. and Intel to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind concept car that transports guests to Gotham City, home to DC Comics’ Batman, showcasing the future of immersive entertainment in autonomous vehicles.

 

 

Brad Bentley to Head WarnerMedia’s OTT Video Group

WarnerMedia has reportedly named Brad Bentley as EVP of direct-to-c0nsumer development, the unit in charge of developing the former Time Warner’s over-the-top video platform launching in 2019.

Bentley, who most-recently headed marketing at AT&T’s entertainment group, will spearhead the unnamed branded OTT service that will offer combined HBO, Warner Bros. programming, in addition to select third-party content.

Separately, Jeremy Legg, chief technology officer at Turner, will now include technology oversight at HBO as well.

“These initial changes are intended to build a direct-to-consumer organization and execution capability necessary to move the overall effort forward and answer the many questions that must be addressed prior to launch,” John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia, wrote in a staff memo first reported by Variety. “As work streams are better defined, I expect there will be further changes and adjustments to our operating model — exactly what, when and who, remains a work in progress that will be heavily influenced by this early work.”

Stankey, in an earlier townhall meeting following AT&T’s consummation of its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, said ongoing operations within Turner, Warner Bros. and especially HBO would include challenges aimed at targeting an increasingly fragmented consumer.

Indeed, Legg’s expanded management duties come just days after a technical snafu involving consumer payment software forced Turner executives to stream for free on Black Friday golf’s first-ever pay-per-view event featuring Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

“I fully expect our journey in the coming months will cause us to assess, recalibrate and adjust time and again,” wrote Stankey.

 

Turner Streamed Woods, Mickelson Golf PPV Match for Free; Issuing Refunds

Golf’s much-hyped first-ever ($19.99) pay-per-view contest, featuring Tiger Woods taking on Phil Mickelson in “The Match” on Black Friday in Las Vegas, saw the $9 million winner-take-all contest streamed for free online following technical issues.

A glitch with the purchasing software forced Turner executives at the last minute to stream the 22-hole match for free on The Bleacher Report Live – the online sports website’s nascent over-the-top video platform.

“We experienced a technical issue on Bleacher Report Live that impacted user access to ‘The Match,’” spokesperson Nate Smeltz told the site – which is owned by WarnerMedia. “We took a number of steps to resolve the matter with our main priority being to deliver the content to those who purchased the event.”

Indeed, the snafu didn’t affect consumers who purchased the match through their pay-TV operator – or The Bleacher Report – from watching Mickelson sink a four-foot birdie putt to defeat Woods.

Comcast Cable, in a statement, said it would refund Xfinity TV subscribers who paid to watch the event.

“We hope Turner and Bleacher Report will do the same given that the event was made available by them for free on [the latter’s] website,” said Comcast.

Interestingly, Turner on Nov. 24 said it would offer refunds to anyone who paid to stream the match on Bleacher Report. Whether that applies to pay-TV users who paid to stream the event through their operator’s OTT platform remains to be seen.

 

WarnerMedia Alleges Politics in Dish Network Dispute

WarnerMedia is accusing the Department of Justice of using a carriage disagreement with Dish Network as leverage in its appeal of a federal judge’s favorable verdict in AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia — which includes HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. — for the first time (Nov. 1) pulled HBO and Cinemax from Dish Network after it claimed the satellite operator refused to negotiate. The move reportedly affected about 2.5 million of Dish’s 13 million pay-TV subscribers.

“Dish’s proposals and actions made it clear they never intended to seriously negotiate an agreement,” Simon Sutton, HBO president and chief revenue officer, said in a statement as reported by Reuters.

While carriage disagreements and negotiations aren’t uncommon, the AT&T/Time Warner merger is different. The deal has been entangled in partisan politics since the election of President Donald Trump.

Trump’s ongoing characterizations of certain media outlets — notably Turner’s CNN — as fake news and biased against him has prompted allegations the Justice Department’s last-minute objection to the merger was more about politics than antitrust issues.

The DOJ contends AT&T has too much power owning and controlling major content creators and distribution channels — leverage it claims hurts consumers. The carriage dispute, says the government, offers a blueprint example of that.

“This behavior, unfortunately, is consistent with what the Department of Justice predicted would result from the merger,” said a DOJ representative. “We are hopeful the Court of Appeals will correct the errors of the District Court.”

WarnerMedia says Dish is using the current political environment to extract more favorable contract terms. Indeed, it alleges Dish is collaborating with DOJ on the issue.

“That collaboration continues to this day with Dish’s tactical decision to drop HBO — not the other way around,” said a WarnerMedia rep. “DOJ failed to prove its claims about HBO at trial and then abandoned them on appeal.”

Andy LeCuyer, SVP pf programming at Dish, argues otherwise.

“It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors,” he said.