After nearly 25 years in the Warner Bros. family, Craig Hunegs is exiting his post as head of business for Warner Bros. TV Group and president of the studio’s digital networks wing.
Hunegs said he has been discussing his exit with Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara for the past several months. At a time of major transition for the television business, Hunegs decided it was a good time to begin a new chapter of his career. He will wrap his long run at Warner Bros. at year’s end.
Hunegs’ departure comes six months after AT&T completed its acquisition of Warner Bros.’ parent company, the former Time Warner now known as WarnerMedia. All of the former Time Warner divisions are bracing for changes in the months ahead as the new owners settle in with Warner Bros., HBO and Turner. But it is understood that Hunegs made the decision to depart without pressure from above.
For the past six years, Hunegs has been president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group. He was part of the triumvirate promoted to run the studio’s TV division following the departure of Bruce Rosenbloom as Warner Bros. TV Group chief in mid-2013.
Two years ago, Tsujihara tapped Hunegs to beef up the studio’s direct-to-consumer streaming operations. Hunegs spearheaded the launch of the fledgling DC Universe subscription service and Warner Bros.’ acquisition of Machinima. Those operations are in flux now that AT&T is looking to launch a broad subscription streaming platform incorporating existing Warner Bros. properties. Machinima, the gaming-focused service, was recently shifted from Warner Bros. to AT&T’s Otter Media digital suite.
“Craig has been an invaluable member of the Warner Bros. family for more than two decades. His skills as a manager, a savvy deal maker and a hugely talented strategist have helped shape our future in the rapidly evolving television industry and been critical to the company’s success,” said Tsujihara.
Hunegs has been with Warner Bros. since he signed on in the business affairs department of the WB Network in 1995. He moved over to the studio side in business affairs in 1997. Hunegs quickly rose through the ranks after proving himself as a business strategist and savvy dealmaker.
“I’m proud of having been part of groundbreaking deals that helped us keep our shows on an even keel even in contentious situations and keep our shows creatively vital,” Hunegs said. “I’ve had so many great opportunities over the years. Now seemed like a good time to pick my head up and ask, ‘What’s next?’ ” Hunegs also expressed his gratitude to his fellow WBTV Group presidents Peter Roth and Jeffrey Schlesinger for an “amazing run.”
During his long run at Warners, Hunegs had a front-row seat to the industry-shaking renegotiation of the “ER” license deal with NBC in 1998 that yielded to a then-record license fee of $13 million per episode for the smash hit medical drama. Hunegs was also a key player in managing renewals of “Friends” at NBC.
More recently, Hunegs helped bring “The Big Bang Theory” cast together for a final two-season deal. He also crafted an innovative and lucrative nine-figure compensation package to keep super-producer Greg Berlanti on the Warner Bros. lot at a time when Netflix and others have raised the financial stakes for talent pacts. Amid boom times for TV programming, Warner Bros. has doubled its scripted output during the past five years, and it made a big push to beef up its unscripted and international TV production capabilities.
In just two years at Digital Networks, Hunegs launched the Stage 13 digital content studio and digital-focused production partnerships with LeBron James and Ellen DeGeneres.
Hunegs plans to take some time off before setting out in search of his next gig.