Warner Bros. has tapped BBC Studios Americas president Ann Sarnoff as its new CEO, a surprise pick that is sure to shakeup the venerable studio.
Sarnoff becomes the first woman to head Warner Bros. in its nearly 100-year history. She was under the radar during WarnerMedia’s search for a successor to lead the studio following the forced resignation of chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara in March.
At Warner Bros. she will run one of the industry’s largest production operations, spanning film, TV, digital, videogames and consumer products. The studio has been through turbulent times in recent months following the hasty exit of Tsujihara and inevitable changes with the integration with new parent company AT&T. Warner Bros. is also at the center of WarnerMedia’s ambitious effort to bundle the former Time Warner assets into a streaming platform to compete in the big leagues of the global platform business.
Sarnoff will report to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. She’s set to join the studio later this summer.
“I am delighted Ann is joining the WarnerMedia team and excited to work side by side with such a talented and accomplished individual. She brings a consistent and proven track record of innovation, creativity and business results to lead an incredibly successful studio to its next chapter of growth,” said Stankey. “Ann has shown the ability to innovate and grow revenues and has embraced the evolution taking place in our industry. I am confident she will be a great cultural fit for WarnerMedia and that our employees will embrace her leadership, enthusiasm and passion for our business.”
Sarnoff has had a range of executive experience, from working for Dow Jones to the WNBA to 10 years as a business and consumer products executive at Viacom, from 1993 to 2003. She joined what was then BBC Worldwide in 2010 as COO and rose to head its global production network. BBC Studios Americas was created in a restructuring last year.
“It is a privilege to join a studio with such a storied history. Warner Bros. has been an industry leader for decades and is known for creating many of the most iconic film, television and gaming properties,” said Sarnoff. “I accept this position excited by the opportunity to work with the most accomplished executives and teams in media, and confident about carrying this incredible heritage forward with them.”
More to come