×

Cecile Frot-Coutaz Leaving FremantleMedia to Head Up YouTube’s EMEA Operations

Cecile Frot-Coutaz is stepping down as CEO of FremantleMedia to head up YouTube’s operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa. The surprise announcement Wednesday that she would leave production and distribution giant FremantleMedia after more than two decades marks the latest departure of a seasoned TV executive for a FAANG job.

Pan-European media group RTL, which owns FremantleMedia, said it was in talks with Frot-Coutaz to ensure a smooth transition and had begun the search for a successor. It did not specify when Frot-Coutaz would exit, but she is understood to have a 12-month notice period. Though unlikely to serve all of this, she will remain as FremantleMedia CEO in London until her replacement is found, continuing in a post she has held since 2012.

YouTube said it had recruited Frot-Coutaz  – one of the most senior executives in international TV – as head of its service in the EMEA region, reporting to chief business officer Robert Kyncl. “Cecile comes with incredible experience in the media industry,” he said. “Her leadership, guidance, strong network and deep industry understanding will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen our partnerships and grow our creator base throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

YouTube is expected to launch its Red subscription service in multiple international territories this year. It has already been commissioning original content from the U.K., such as sci-fi series “Origin” from “The Crown” producer Left Bank. It also has a slate of original programming for its core ad-supported service, including the upcoming entertainment show “Training Days,” produced by James Corden’s Fulwell 73.

FremantleMedia has embraced digital distribution under Frot-Coutaz’s leadership, establishing almost 300 YouTube channels. In 2017, FremantleMedia content, including “X Factor” and “Idol,” registered 26.2 billion views. “YouTube is the voice of a generation and has become an integral part of the world’s cultural conversation,” Frot-Coutaz said. “The opportunity to be part of that conversation and to work with Robert, his team and the wider Google community was too good to turn down.”

In a message to FremantleMedia staff, she said she was leaving with “a heavy heart.” “I’ve always said that two things would need to be the case for me to consider leaving,” Frot-Coutaz said. “First, and most importantly, Fremantle would need to be firing on all cylinders – brimming with creative excellence and unstoppable momentum. Second, it would take a unique challenge that offers me something completely new and different. Both of those conditions have been met….

“Words can’t adequately express how proud I am of everything we have achieved together. More specifically, the work we have done in the last five and a half years has set us on a bold new course. Creativity and talent are firmly at the heart of the business, and that is where they will remain. This is a thriving, confident company with a terrific pipeline, dynamic global leadership, a very supportive shareholder and, above all, a world-class team of creatives. Thanks to you, we are stronger than we have ever been.”

FremantleMedia has extensive production operations throughout Europe. It also has an extensive international distribution operation. Under Frot-Coutaz’s leadership, the company has pushed heavily into scripted with shows such as “American Gods,” “The Young Pope,” and “Deutschland 83,” after having previously been better known for formats and entertainment shows, including the successful “Idol” and “Got Talent” franchises.

FremantleMedia posted revenues of €1.47 billion ($1.8 billion) in 2017. It scored a major win in the U.S. with ABC reviving “American Idol” for its 2017-18 season. In scripted, its production companies make high-end series including “American Gods” and the upcoming Rai and HBO drama “My Brilliant Friend.”

Bert Habets, who became sole CEO of RTL Group late last year, said he regretted Frot-Coutaz’s decision to leave but thanked her for her service.

“She has built FremantleMedia North America into the largest operation in FremantleMedia’s global network, serving also as executive producer of hit formats such as ‘American Idol’ and ‘America’s Got Talent,'” Habets said. “As CEO of FremantleMedia, she has successfully put creativity back in the center of the company over the past six years.”

Frot-Coutaz’s move is the latest departure of a senior executive from the traditional TV world in Britain for a New Media job, a shifting of talent and resources that has alarmed established players such as the BBC and ITV. Former Channel 4 controller Jay Hunt has moved to Apple, and former FremantleMedia and BBC executive Georgia Brown to Amazon.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content