Rice will continue to oversee the majority of Fox’s domestic television operations, as well as the international channels group. He will retain his title as chairman-CEO of Fox Networks Group, a role he’s held since 2012. In that capacity he already works closely on strategic planning and business development with 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and chairman Lachlan Murdoch.
The corporate title is designed to recognize his success as the leader of Fox Networks Group, notably the cable channels that are so crucial to the parent company’s bottom line.
Reporting structures on the Fox lot will not change with Rice’s promotion. Film chief Stacey Snider continues to report directly to 21st Century Fox chairman Lachlan Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch. The New York-based Fox News operation reports in through 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch.
“As part of our ongoing work to evolve and expand the 21CF leadership structure, we’re pleased to name Peter to this newly created position,” Lachlan and James Murdoch said in a joint statement. “Peter has driven exceptional growth at Fox Networks Group during a time of real transformational change in the business, expanding our audiences and innovating new distribution models, from which the company, our shareholders and our customers have benefited greatly. Peter’s impact on the business is immense and we are incredibly fortunate to have him with us in this expanded role during this exciting next chapter of the company.”
On Rice’s watch, Fox has expanded its cable portfolio with the launch of the FXX comedy channel and the makeover of its Fox Sports cable operation from a regional to national focus with the FS1 and FS2 channels. Rice has amped up the digital offerings at the company with improved authenticated streaming apps and innovations in advertising sales and formats — most recently this week’s announcement that Fox Sports’ football coverage will include inventory for 6-second spots in the coming season.
The 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21 Television Studios units have been on a roll amid the Peak TV moment, delivering a mix of commercial and critical hits including FX’s “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” anthology franchises, NBC’s breakout drama “This Is Us” and Fox’s hit soap “Empire.”
But a weak spot in Rice’s portfolio has been Fox Broadcasting Co. The network has struggled to seed a new generation of primetime building blocks in its post-“American Idol” era. The network recently made a management shift in tapping former 20th Century Fox TV development chief Michael Thorn for the entertainment president post held for the past three years by David Madden (who is on his way to a new gig at AMC and SundanceTV).
Rice has grown up as an executive in the Fox fold. He started his career in the marketing department of the 20th Century Fox film studio. He advanced to executive VP of the studio and headed the Fox Searchlight unit through a successful run with such pics as “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno.” He moved to Fox Broadcasting Co. in 2009.