Founding Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has been named WarnerMedia CEO, effective May 1, the company announced today.
Kilar will report to former WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. Last September, Stankey was promoted to president and chief operating officer of AT&T, setting him up as the likely successor to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.
“Jason is a dynamic executive with the right skillset 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,” said Stankey in a statement.
The new CEO will take on the role at the most pivotal moment for the company since it was purchased by AT&T in June 2018. Shortly after Kilar’s arrival, WarnerMedia will debut the HBO Max streaming service, its entry in the packed streaming space.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is still reeling from the coronavirus-related cancellation of March Madness, and the postponement of its NBA games, which leaves the company with a massive ad revenue hole.
March Madness generated $910 million in national ad revenue last year for CBS and WarnerMedia, according to Kantar. Independent research firm MoffettNathanson estimates that if the rest of the 2019-2020 basketball season is canceled, WarnerMedia could lose $210 million in NBA revenue.
Kilar served as Hulu CEO from its 2007 start until 2013. Prior to that, he held several leadership positions at Amazon from 1997 to 2006, including svp of worldwide application software. He also was co-founder and CEO of the video streaming service Vessel from 2013-2017.
“In partnership with this world-class team, I’m so excited for the opportunity to lean into the future at WarnerMedia,” said Kilar in a statement. “Stories well told have always mattered, and they matter even more in this challenging time for the world. It will be a privilege to invent, create and serve with so many talented people. May 1 can’t get here soon enough.”
The no-longer-vacant CEO position has led to some upheaval at the company. Last month, Brian Lesser unexpectedly stepped down as Xandr CEO amid speculation that he had interviewed for the vacant WarnerMedia CEO position and had been told he would not get the job.