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Road to CEO post began with VOD map

Kevin Tsujihara's savvy choices in on-demand realm helped seal deal

For anyone who doesn’t believe VOD will be a major source of revenue for the studios, just look to Kevin Tsujihara’s ascension to CEO of Warner Bros. for a gauge of just how important it is to that studio.

As Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes considered whether to promote Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group president Tsujihara, Warner Bros. Picture Group president Jeff Robinov or Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum to the post, the homevid topper’s role in growing VOD sales on cable platforms proved key in landing him the job, Variety has learned.

Over the past three years, Tsujihara has been instrumental in helping the Cable & Telecommunications Assn. for Marketing get more consumers to embrace the rental of movies through their set-top boxes.

In 2010, Tsujihara helped the org launch its “Movies on Demand on Cable” brand and “The Video Store Just Moved In” campaign, which included the national introduction of a green “MOD” logo pushed across eight cable operators and involved films from 10 distributors. In most cases, films are offered day-and-date on VOD with their traditional disc releases in stores. And marketing materials have pushed the fact that the titles are available 28 days before they reach Netflix and Redbox.

Point of the $30 million campaign, pushed across TV, print and websites, was to entice consumers to try VOD with the click of their remotes and grow digital rentals as more consumers were turning to streaming services from Netflix, Amazon and Walmart’s Vudu, or kiosk-based rentals offered by Redbox, and ignoring homevid chains like Blockbuster.

“Movies on Demand is a great way for consumers to rent movies, they are reasonably priced, always available, and the number of day-and-date titles continues to increase year over year,” Tsujihara said when the campaign was launched.

Warner Bros was the first major studio to test day-and-date on demand in 2006, and nearly half of its titles were available day-and-date in 2010.

Advertising effort later was extended to include the participation of retailers, restaurant chains and food manufacturers like Target, Walgreens, Pizza Hut and Yellow Tail wine.

Marketing move followed an “Only Cable Can” ad campaign that positioned cable as the only platform for delivering HDTV, high-speed Internet and VOD programming.

Last year, VOD sales from cable and other services grew nearly 11% to generate nearly $2 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group. For Time Warner, the company earned $1.9 billion from homevideo and electronic delivery of its movies and TV shows in the first nine months of 2012.

Overall, digital continues to prove a significant category for studios, with EST, subscriptions and VOD, combined, now accounting for 28% of the domestic homevid market, the DEG said, up from 19% in 2011.

That is expected to be an area of interest for Bewkes as he promotes his TV Everywhere initiative.

Tsujihara has been prexy of WBHE since 2005, and oversaw homevideo, digital distribution, videogames, anti-piracy, and emerging technology operations, including the rollout of UltraViolet, a digital locker service that has signed up around 10 million subscribers to digitally store their online movie and TV purchases.

To further grow WB’s digital bottomline, exec has been a regular at events like the Consumer Electronics Show, held each year at the beginning of January, meeting with hardware manufacturers to get more of the studio’s films and TV shows onto their screens and set top boxes.

• Knocking on Kevin’s door
• Robinov retains pic power base, but speculation stirs
• Rosenblum’s future on WB lot remains unsettled
• Kevin Tsujihara’s WB milestones

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