Jason Kilnar will be the new CEO of entertainment conglomerate, WarnerMedia, effective May 1st. Kilnar will be taking the reins during the critical window before the launch of the new streaming service, HBO Max. John Stankey, the Chief Operating Officer of WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T, has been filling the role since September, while they searched for a replacement.
Prior to this move, Kilar was the founding CEO of Hulu, a board member for Dreamworks Animation and an Amazon executive. His extensive background leading streaming services will be invaluable during the coming chaotic months. Home streaming is up, higher than ever, because people are forced to stay in their homes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Widespread lockdowns have caused film and television productions to be put on hold nationwide. The advertising industry has also been sent reeling by sports and event cancellations. And this year brings the launch of both HBO Max. There is a lot on Jason Kilnar’s plate.
WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, WarnerMedia News and Sports head Jeff Zucker, Warner Bros CEO Ann Sarnoff and WarnerMedia chief revenue officer Gerhard Zeiler will all report to Kilnar. The fact that the company has decided to hire an outside streaming specialist, as opposed to an internal hire, suggests what WarnerMedia sees as an important part of its future.
Kilnar had decided to leave Hulu during a time when Disney’s relationship in the company was ambiguous. Disney is now the majority equity stake holder in Hulu, but there was uncertainty as to how the partnership would play out. Kilnar then went on to start Vessel, with Robert Tom. That venture was purchased by Verizon, only to be shut down by 2016.
It will be interesting to see what changes Kilnar makes in his first few months. Stankey, who Kilnar will be reporting to, said “Jason is a dynamic executive with the right skill set to lead WarnerMedia into the future. His experience in media and entertainment, direct-to-consumer video streaming and advertising is the perfect fit for WarnerMedia, and I am excited to have him lead the next chapter of WarnerMedia’s storied success.”