Ann Sarnoff, who has been at WarnerMedia’s leading film and TV studio for almost three years, is leaving the company as soon as she merges with Discovery.
News of his departure spread quickly on Tuesday and was later confirmed in a press release. It will take effect after the completion of the 43 billion merger, which is an ongoing goal but close to becoming a reality. Regulators will set the exact timeline when the transaction can be formally completed, but there are indications that it will happen on Friday.
News of his departure came from WarnerMedia CEO Jason Killer, who told employees Friday would be his last day. Also leaving is Andy Forsell, head of HBO Max.
Sarnoff joined the company in mid-2019 and was promoted to chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Network Group the following year. She is the first woman to serve as chairman of a film and TV station in a studio.
Since Discovery and AT&T first proposed a span-off combination with WarnerMedia in May 2021, there were questions about Sarnoff’s role in the exec structure in light of the number of execs in the mix of both companies.
With Discovery CEO David Jaslav taking charge of the new company’s cohesive entity and pure-play nature, the new executive structure is expected to have a lower level. Discovery has pledged to save খরচ 3 billion in costs from the new initiative to reduce the debt burden.
Prior to his arrival at WarnerMedia, Sarnoff was an executive at Viacom, Dow Jones, WNBA and BBC Studio America. Sarnoff’s title is certainly familiar to the media mavens. Her husband’s great-uncle, David Sarnoff, was RCA’s trailblazing chairman and one of the founders of television, presiding over NBC’s early years and broadcasting himself.
“I would like to thank Ann for her leadership during a transition period for the company and our industry,” Jaslav said in a press release. “He is an enthusiastic and committed steward of the world’s most powerful creative engine and has led WarnerMedia’s business, brand and workforce with honesty, dedication and hard work to bring it closer together. The company has a lot of exciting momentum and I appreciate all the advice and partnerships we’ve had over the last few months that have put us in a position to be successful with the launch of Warner Bros. Discovery. We all wish him success in his future endeavors. ”
Killer, in his own statement, called Sarnoff “the definition of a world-class executive and a selfless leader.” It was amazing to see Anne combining different creative teams in the past, investing in those teams, creative excellence and business results that this company has never seen before. Ann is a first class person and I am honored to work with someone of her caliber. “
Sarnoff shared the news of the departure with staff in an internal memo. Here is the complete memo:
Although I have sent you notes to keep you updated on our successes and changes in our company over the last few years, this note is different, because this will be my last in this role. I will leave the company when the WarnerMedia / Discovery transaction is over.
Stepping into a leadership role has never been easier, whether in a 96-year-old studio or in a newly formed business group, but in both cases I was confident in our ability to succeed because I was the most intelligent, the most creative and the most innovative team I worked with. Your passion for what you do is extraordinary and clear.
Looking back on my time here since the first year of Warner Bros. and then almost two years leading the studio and network group, I can’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved. And I’m not going to qualify for that success in terms of the epidemic or switch to distant work, because we’ve succeeded in every step – thank you all.
Our goal is to be the best storyteller in the world, and we’ve delivered on that mission in the best of times and the most challenging. Here are some examples: Last week, we won 7 Oscars – more than any other studio. In the awards season year, we won 18 Critics Choice, 6 Screen Actors Guild, 9 Writers Guild, 5 Producer Guild, 3 Directors Guild, 8 AFIs, 9 Golden Globes, 11 NAACP Image and 6 BAFTA Awards – 80 of which are from this core industry body. More rewards. And none of our peers even close! I am proud of our amazing creative partnerships and our fantastic leadership team, who together have repeatedly proven that the talent and storytelling of the studio and network group is truly our strength and second to none.
Perhaps the thing I am most proud of, and something that has been the focus of my attention since the first day of my career, is to create a collaborative culture throughout our organization and to flatten the silos that our departments handle. I have heard from colleagues around the world that they are working more cross-departmentally than at any other time in the history of our company. Pictures Group is making spin-off series like Peacemaker and The Penguin, whether making movies for HBO Max, HBO Max and WBTV, Tinet showing Max programming in their newly created “Front Row” programming block, working with KYAC Team Max. Create a critical mass of kids and family programming across linear and streaming, or the Global Brands team is galvanizing an incredible effort across the company to create the DC Phandome – the largest virtual fan event in history – all innovative and incredible. And proved that really more than the whole part. And the results speak for themselves – we’ve created and delivered long-term plans that are building the engagement of great fans across our franchise. After all, our fans can no longer see our organization chart! I am proud to have been able to play a role in helping us realize this potential and create a sustainable asset for the company.
In addition to this amazing cross-sectional work, you have all hit it off the park in the last one year with great performances across our business. It would take three or four pages to list everything we’ve done, but I’d like to mention a few highlights:
First, we had record financial performance in 2021 with Studio and Network Group as the leading contributors to WarnerMedia’s bottom line. Second, we know how important HBO Max growth was for the company. We asked and you answered – every section of the Studios and Networks team had a hand in supporting HBO Max’s accelerated growth through world-class programming and promotional partnerships. We’ve had over 13 million subscriptions a year – even out of the plan – and arguably the most talked about streaming service. Our colleagues set up HBO and HBO Max programming and then raised a few creative bar names with their series, limited series and Euphoria, Legacy, and so on দিয়ে longtime programming like The Guilded Age and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Would like . Our Pictures Group literally kept the theater business alive in 2021 by releasing 17 films in theaters (to help our partners exhibit) and in HBO Max (to provide customers with first-run films while helping to enhance the service). WBPG has made a great start this year Batman, Which has surpassed $ 700 (!) Million worldwide Warner Bros. Television Group continues to lead the industry, producing more than 100 fan-favorite series. Ted Lasso, Abbott Primary, Maid, You, Young Sheldon And Friends Reunion for internal and external partners across broadcast, cable and digital platforms. TNets’ TBS and TNT simply topped the charts, creating significant series that helped attract more than 200 million viewers annually. We’ve teamed up with Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Warner Bros. Animation and TCM to create the Kids, Young Adults and Classic Group (KYAC), and the teams are quickly coming up with an ambitious plan, including launching a pre-school programming block, Cartoonito. We have supercharged DC brands and businesses to film, TV, publishing, consumer products and experiences, with fan engagement as the main goal. We continue our franchise focus around the Wizarding World with the launch of the amazing Harry Potter Store in New York, our redesigned WB Hollywood Studio Tour, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – the groundbreaking of The Making of. Harry Potter.
While these are just highlights, you can see why I’m so proud – and so grateful – for all of you. You have all done incredible and amazing things in the last few years.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of you, not only for your many contributions to the success of the company, but also for all that you have done, big and small, to make my time here special and rewarding. I really liked playing this character. It is an honor and privilege to work with you, and I will continue to reach great heights for all of you and for many, many years to discover Warner Bros.!