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HBO's COO Eric Kessler to Depart

Eric Kessler - P 2013
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Eric Kessler

"After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO," CEO Richard Plepler said an internal memo announcing the news.

After 27 years with the company, HBO's Chief Operating Officer Eric Kessler is out.

"After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO," CEO Richard Plepler wrote an internal memo announcing the news Friday. He added: "His accomplishments have helped shape the company throughout its modern history."

The move will leave Plepler, who was upped to CEO following Bill Nelson's departure a year earlier, as the sole top executive at the network. All of the execs who previously reported to Kessler will now do so to Plepler, whose ascent was expedited on the heels of former chief Chris Albrecht's 2007 exit.

In recent years, Kessler has been an integral figure in crafting the network's digital strategy, which has included the enviable success of HBO Go. His other responsibilities include international channels, affiliate sales, finance and marketing.

The news comes nearly two weeks after the network announced another shake-up, with entertainment president Sue Naegle stepping down from her current role. Naegle, who had been with HBO for five years, will segue into that of a producer with a multiyear first-look deal with the premium cable network.

Read the complete memo from Plepler below.

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Eric Kessler will be leaving HBO. After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO.

It is important to say that this in no way reflects on the extraordinary talents that Eric has so ably demonstrated in his 27 years at HBO. His accomplishments have helped shape the company throughout its modern history. Eric has been an uncommonly valued colleague and friend to all of us at HBO. While his many contributions could not adequately be reflected here, they are indeed numerous and lasting – in fact, we are currently completing one of our strongest years ever. Eric launched several iconic marketing and advertising campaigns – most notably the award winning “It's Not TV. It's HBO” - and his influence is visible on screen through HBO's lauded on-air promotional efforts. Since 2007, Eric has overseen the distribution of the HBO and Cinemax networks in both domestic and international markets. In addition to the pay television channels, he oversaw the worldwide sale of HBO's programming through licensing, DVD and digital distribution.

Eric was an early champion of our digital future – he was central in establishing our relationship with iTunes (Apple), driving the exploration of mobile experiences, and ultimately leading the development and worldwide launch of HBO GO. HBO GO is an essential innovation for HBO and without Eric and his team, it would not have emerged as what is widely regarded as television's most elegant digital product.

Eric's grace and professionalism are a tribute to his passion and commitment to HBO. He has agreed to work with us during a transition period to ensure continuity. During this period, Rob Roth, Otto Berkes, Shelley Brindle, Pam Levine and Simon Sutton will report to me.

Words are insufficient to express our gratitude, appreciation and respect for a beloved colleague. It is indisputable that he will immediately be inducted into the HBO Hall of Fame.