Fox has restructured the management of its sprawling international channels division, dividing the group into regional hubs that report directly into Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice and COO Randy Freer.
The overhaul eliminates the overarching Fox International Channels unit, which has prompted the departure of Hernan Lopez as CEO. Lopez said he was preparing to launch a new venture in the near future.
The group of 350-plus channels will revolve around three regional hubs in Europe, Latin America and Asia, led by existing FIC senior execs. Jan Koeppen becomes president of Fox Networks Group Europe; Carlos Martinez becomes president of Fox Networks Group Latin America and Zubin Gandevia becomes president of Fox Networks Group Asia.
“As our television business expands globally, the success and scale of our entertainment and sports brands in these fast-growing regions demand that they stand independently,” Rice said. “Jan, Carlos and Zubin are extremely talented executives with a sharp understanding of the opportunities for new content and programming in their regions.”
Lopez had been CEO of Fox International Channels since 2011. He joined Fox in 1997 as a marketing exec and was named president and was named general manager of Fox Latin American Channel in 2000. He was part of the team that dramatically expanded Fox’s global reach with dozens of channel during the ensuing decade.
The land rush gave Fox an important early-mover advantage in the global markets that are now seen as the most vital drivers of future growth for media congloms. Most of the channels carry the Fox, FX, Fox Sports and National Geographic brand names. The channels group now generates some $3 billion in annual revenue and had been projected by Fox to deliver $1 billion in operating profit by mid-2015.
Lopez, who was based in Los Angeles, led the charge for FIC’s strategy of mounting near day-and-date rollouts of high-profile U.S. imports across its entertainment channels, starting with the acquisition of “The Walking Dead” in 2010.
During Lopez’s tenure, Fox partnered with Colombia’s RCN on an ambitious bid to launch a U.S. Spanish-language broadcast network, MundoFox, in 2012. But the channel struggled with distribution in key Hispanic markets and in gaining traction with viewers. RCN bought out Fox’s share of the venture last summer.
Lopez said he was most proud of the strong executive team that he helped install at the FIC channels and the focus on harnessing the worldwide heft of the platform for high-profile entertainment launches. In total the channels group has about 4,000 employees. Lopez said he had no regrets about the MundoFox effort.
“We created a culture of entrepreneurship that valued results and risk-taking,” he told Variety. “I don’t think a business that prides itself on building brands can be paralyzed by the fear of taking risks.”