WarnerMedia exodus as Jason Kilar, Ann Sarnoff & Andy Forssell confirm exit

White Lotus

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, its studios chief Ann Sarnoff and HBO Max boss Andy Forssell are all to leave the media giant ahead of its mega-merger with Discovery.

Kilar’s future at WarnerMedia had been in doubt for more than a year but was confirmed on Tuesday, along with former BBC Studios exec Sarnoff and Forssell.

Ann Sarnoff

Sarnoff had joined in 2019 having been BBCS Americas president, replacing predecessor Kevin Tsujihara.

She then became chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group the following year, with WarnerMedia’s shock $43bn merger with Discovery announced 12 months after that.

‘Transformational period’

David Zaslav, who will steer WarnerMedia Discovery once the merger is completed possibly as soon as later this week, thanked Sarnoff for “her leadership during a transformational period for the company and our industry.”

He added: “She has been a passionate and committed steward of the world’s most formidable creative engine and has led with integrity, focus and hard work in bringing WarnerMedia’s businesses, brands and workforce closer together.”

Joining Sarnoff and Kilar in departing WarnerMedia is Forssell, who had worked at Hulu – like Kilar – before joining the US studio to run HBO Max.

US reports suggest Discovery president & CEO of streaming & international, JB Perrette, will take charge of the combined company’s streaming operation, details of which remain unclear.

The three senior exec departures will not be the last as WarnerMedia and Discovery prepare for life as one company.

Discovery has previously said it has identified $3bn cost efficiencies, with replicated roles across the two companies now being shaken out.

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