With the $43 billion Warner Bros. Discovery mega-merger about to be completed, CEO David Zaslav has unveiled more key executive appointments for the combined company.
The industry veteran confirmed that trusted, long-time Discovery top executives will take on key jobs at the merged conglomerate, while from the WarnerMedia side, entertainment leaders Casey Bloys (HBO and HBO Max), Channing Dungey (WB TV), and Toby Emmerich (WB Pictures) will oversee their respective fiefdoms, reporting directly to Zaslav.
Bloys has often earned compliments and shout-outs from Zaslav in appearances since the merger was unveiled. In November, for example, Zaslav said that Bloys was “having an incredible run of success with Succession and White Lotus and Hacks and Mare of Easttown.” Last summer, he had lauded him by saying that “Casey has been really getting it right.”
Meanwhile, Kathleen Finch, who is currently Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer, will oversee all of WB Discovery’s linear channels (except for CNN and HBO Max), adding oversight of channels like TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and TruTV to her portfolio of Discovery channels.
Other top deputies who have known Zaslav since his pre-Discovery days at NBCUniversal will also have important functions at the merged company. Trusted lieutenant JB Perrette, who most recently served as president and CEO of Discovery International and Streaming, will take on the role leading the combined company’s streaming businesses along with gaming. His title: CEO and President, Warner Bros. Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment, with “responsibility for HBO Max and Discovery+, as well as all direct-to-consumer and gaming around the world.| David Haddad, president Warner Bros. Games, will report to Perrette. Perrette joined Discovery in October 2011 as chief digital officer after spending 11 years at NBCUniversal, most recently serving as president, digital and affiliate distribution, in addition to playing a leadership role in developing Hulu.
Veteran dealmaker and fellow trusted member of Zaslav’s inner circle Bruce Campbell, most recently chief development, distribution and legal officer at Discovery, will also fill a key job at the merged conglomerate overseeing all revenue, including advertising and affiliate revenue. His title: Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer. Before joining Discovery in 2007, Campbell was executive vp, business development at NBCUniversal
Zaslav had previously tapped Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, who has been with the company since 2016, as the CFO of Warner Bros. Discovery and said that Candle Media co-CEO Kevin Mayer would work with the firm as an advisor on its streaming strategy.
With international a big part of the merged company’s business, industry veteran Gerhard Zeiler will serve as president, international, with responsibility for the firm’s businesses across more than 200 countries and territories. “He has held the same role for WarnerMedia, and now adds responsibility for Discovery’s significant international footprint,” Discovery noted. “With respect to direct-to-consumer and international content distribution strategy, Zeiler and his team will have a dotted line to Perrette.”
“We are so excited to bring the heritage and legacies of these two great companies together by creating Warner Bros. Discovery, and I am proud that our new executive management team blends world-class leaders from both organizations as we take our first step toward one single cohesive, collaborative culture.,” said Zaslav. “Today’s announcement combines a strong team of professional managers in a simpler organizational structure, with fewer layers, more accountability and a singular strategic focus as a global pure-play content company. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves with this team so that, together, we can write this next exciting chapter. These accomplished leaders will create a place where creatives, talent and all of our people in every corner of the globe can do their best work and inspire audiences everywhere with the magic, joy and wonder of world-class storytelling, news and sports.”
With the new executive set-up, Zaslav’s goal is to do away with WarnerMedia management layers that made sense for telecom giant AT&T after it acquired the entertainment powerhouse. Instead, key units and executives will now report directly to Zaslav.
That is most obvious at the former Warners businesses, with Bloys, Dungey and Emmerich all reporting to Zaslav, giving him more direct oversight of the combined company’s entertainment offerings.
As widely expected on Wall Street, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar revealed last Tuesday that he would leave the company as of the merger close. Analysts have said a CEO for the WarnerMedia assets won’t be needed anymore. Andy Forssell, executive vp and general manager of HBO Max, also departed. The same goes for Ann Sarnoff, the chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group.
Zaslav and Wiedenfels have targeted at least $3 billion in annual cost synergies from the merger.