2:09pm PT by Lesley Goldberg, Natalie Jarvey
Otter Media Folded Into WarnerMedia Group
Otter Media is being realigned into the WarnerMedia Entertainment group.
Otter CEO Tony Goncalves will now lead product and development for the forthcoming WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer service, along with Otter's existing brands and services. He will report to WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt as both digital businesses are united ahead of the fourth-quarter soft launch of the unnamed streaming service. The platform will be a home for content from HBO, WarnerMedia cable networks (like TBS, TNT, etc.) and Warner Bros. and a slate of original content.
Andy Forssell, most recently COO at Otter (and a former CEO of Hulu), will now become executive vp and GM of the new streaming service, reporting to Goncalves. Kevin Reilly — fresh off a new deal that has him overseeing TBS, TNT, TruTV and being chief content officer of the DTC platform — will remain in that position, reporting to Greenblatt. Brad Bentley, who was the streaming platform's GM, will depart.
Otter Media was previously housed under the Warner Bros. studio that was overseen by Kevin Tsujihara. The unit will now be housed under the WarnerMedia arm overseen by Greenblatt.
"As we continue to build out our new streaming business and realign WarnerMedia functions, this step will facilitate further scale and focus in our efforts to offer customers an engaging and compelling product experience,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said Friday in a statement. “I’m confident that with Tony and Andy leading our product and operations, Kevin and HBO’s Casey Bloys guiding our content strategy, and with Bob at the helm, we have a formidable team creating a curated streaming service with a winning combination of content and features. I also want to thank Brad for his leadership in bringing the project to this point in record time.”
Goncalves joined Otter as CEO last year. Through AT&T's DirecTV acquisition, he served as CEO of digital brands and head of strategy and business development for the telecom group. The realignment gives Greenblatt an additional report as the former NBC Entertainment chairman settles into his new role overseeing a massive suite of networks and a streaming service.
For his part, Forssell was executive vp and COO of Otter Media. He joined Otter from Fullscreen, where he served as COO.
The new WarnerMedia leadership team now rests with Greenblatt at the helm; a content team of Reilly and HBO programming president Bloys; and Sarah Aubrey, Jennifer O'Connell and Suzanna Makkos, with the latter trio working as head of originals, nonfiction/kids, comedy and innovation, respectively, for the upcoming streaming service. The product and development team is now led by Goncalves and Forssell.
Otter Media launched in 2014 as a joint venture of The Chernin Group and AT&T with a focus on building and buying streaming video businesses. Its portfolio includes Fullscreen, anime streaming service Crunchyroll, gaming-centric media company Rooster Teeth and a minority stake in Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine. AT&T assumed full ownership of Otter last August following the telecom giant's deal to acquire Time Warner.