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 Cecile Frot-Coutaz took over as chief executive officer of FremantleMedia Group in 2012, it derived 70% of its revenue from reality shows, and in particular big entertainment formats like “Idols,” “The X Factor,” and “Got Talent.”
The next year she revealed that her goal was to increase drama output over five years to a point where scripted shows were generating 50% of revenue. The wisdom of this strategy was underscored when the U.S. versions of “The X Factor” and “Idol” were canceled (Frot-Coutaz has since championed the return of “Idol” on ABC).
She has sought to achieve this restructuring partly through the acquisition of drama production companies like Italy’s Wildside, which recently produced Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Young Pope,” starring Jude Law and Diane Keaton. FremantleMedia has also set up new scripted companies like Kate Harwood’s Euston Films, which is producing “Hard Sun,” written by “Luther’s” Neil Cross. It is also ramping up in-house output, with shows like Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” which premieres on Starz in 2017.
FremantleMedia has also continued to expand its activities in the new media space, such as its recent investment in soccer-related media company Squawka.
Frot-Coutaz began her career at Pearson Group. When it purchased the assets of Grundy Television, she was named corporate strategy executive for the newly created Pearson Television, and spearheaded the acquisition of All-American Fremantle.
After a short spell in San Francisco creating online and interactive strategies for Pearson Television, she joined the North American headquarters of the re-branded FremantleMedia in Los Angeles, where she served as executive VP, commercial and operations until her promotion to COO of production in 2002.
In 2005, she was appointed CEO of FremantleMedia North America, and served as executive producer on “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “The X Factor USA.”