Former Hulu chief Jason Kilar has been named CEO of WarnerMedia, giving him oversight of Warner Bros., HBO, the Turner cable assets and the company’s nascent HBO Max streaming platform.
Kilar succeeds John Stankey, who was upped in September to AT&T president and chief operating officer. Kilar’s name had surfaced as a contender for the job several weeks ago. His choice is another sign that WarnerMedia parent company AT&T sees streaming as the big future earnings driver for WarnerMedia. He will formally take the job on May 1 and report to Stankey.
In announcing Kilar’s appointment, Stankey also reaffirmed AT&T’s plan to launch HBO Max in May. That target date was set before the coronavirus pandemic up-ended business activity in the U.S. and around the globe. WarnerMedia is believed to be targeting a late May debut date.
“Jason is a dynamic executive with the right skill set to lead WarnerMedia into the future. His experience in media and entertainment, direct-to-consumer video streaming and advertising is the perfect fit for WarnerMedia, and I am excited to have him lead the next chapter of WarnerMedia’s storied success,” said Stankey. “Our team led by Bob Greenblatt, Ann Sarnoff, Gerhard Zeiler and Jeff Zucker has done an amazing job establishing our brands as leaders in the hearts and minds of consumers. Adding Jason to the talented WarnerMedia family as we launch HBO Max in May gives us the right management team to strategically position our leading portfolio of brands, world-class talent and rich library of intellectual property for future growth.”
WarnerMedia division heads — WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Greenblatt, Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Sarnoff, WarnerMedia News and Sports chief Zucker and WarnerMedia chief revenue officer Zeiler — will report to Kilar.
Kilar built Hulu into a streaming player from its inception in 2007 as a joint venture of Fox and NBCUniversal. He exited in 2013 amid reports of conflicts with Hulu’s owners, which by then included Disney, about the future direction of the company. Disney now controls Hulu outright following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year and a buyout agreement set with NBCUniversal last May.
“In partnership with this world-class team, I’m so excited for the opportunity to lean into the future at WarnerMedia,” Kilar said. “Stories well told have always mattered, and they matter even more in this challenging time for the world. It will be a privilege to invent, create, and serve with so many talented people. May 1st can’t get here soon enough.”
Kilar served as co-founder and CEO of the startup streamer Vessel from 2013 to 2017. He’s also served on the boards of Univision and DreamWorks Animation in recent years. Before Hulu, Kilar was a senior executive at Amazon from 1997 to 2006.