The Warner Bros. Television Group will consolidate its two domestic television distribution divisions, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (WBDTD) and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution (WBDCD), into a single domestic television distribution entity, it was announced today by Bruce Rosenblum, President, Warner Bros. Television Group.
“In the last few years, the markets served by our two divisions have evolved into one marketplace,” said Rosenblum. “It is clear that having two domestic distribution units in an environment of blended distribution windows is neither financially prudent nor strategically smart. Having one operation represent our product to syndicated, cable and satellite buyers domestically will help us to better serve these clients, be more nimble and responsive in the marketplace and heighten our competitive advantage.”
The combined unit will be headed by Ken Werner, who will continue to serve as President of the newly expanded Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Eric Frankel, who has served as President, Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution since 2001, will depart Warner Bros.
Since their establishment, WBDTD had been responsible for sales of first-run syndicated programs, off-network programs and sales of feature films to local television stations, while WBDCD handled the sale of those same properties to pay, cable, satellite and broadcast networks.
“Ken and Eric are both great television executives. They’ve done fantastic jobs in leading their respective divisions, and I am grateful to them both,” continued Rosenblum. “I’ve known and worked with Eric for many, many years and will miss working with him day in and day out. He has been a key member of our senior leadership team, and we sincerely appreciate his significant contributions to our success.
“I am also very excited about the opportunities and possibilities this new structure will provide our Television Group. In Ken’s year and a half leading WBDTD, he has done a terrific job of positioning our syndication business to meet the challenges of the changing marketplace,” said Rosenblum. “I am looking forward to working with him on defining the future of our company’s domestic distribution operations.”
“I’m honored that Bruce and the company have entrusted me with this responsibility,” said Werner. “The formation of a single domestic distribution unit will allow us to maximize our marketing efforts across all platforms, provide us with broader and more cohesive insight into what our clients need and help us to better coordinate our approach toward new markets, technologies and revenue opportunities. I can’t wait to get started.”
“Throughout my career at Warner Bros., I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many extremely talented executives at WBDCD, Warner Bros., Time Warner and throughout the entire entertainment industry,” said Frankel. “It’s been a stimulating, exciting and successful 28 years playing a significant role in the ever-changing media landscape. As a person who embraces change, I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career.”
Werner was named President, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution in August 2006. In his brief tenure at WBDTD, Werner has orchestrated five major programming sales deals in the first-run and off-network syndication marketplaces.
Immediately upon joining WBDTD, he led the successful sales and launch effort for TMZ, the new daily entertainment news magazine program based upon TMZ.com, the number one entertainment news destination on the Internet and now the number one new syndicated program of the 2007-2008 television season. Werner also negotiated the renewal of The Tyra Banks Show, plus a long-term programming partnership for WBDTD with the NBC Universal Television Stations, which includes the long-running hit entertainment magazine Extra, the Emmy-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the upcoming The Bonnie Hunt Show (now cleared in 90% of the country).
Werner was also instrumental in deals involving the renewal of Without a Trace and the sale of Volume 41, a 35-title theatrical motion picture package.
Prior to joining WBDTD, Werner served as an important member of the Warner Bros. Entertainment team that formed The CW Television Network and led the initial rollout of its distribution. Werner’s association with Warner Bros. began 1997, when he joined The WB Network as its Executive Vice President, Distribution.
He previously served as Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Business Development at CBS, Inc. Prior to CBS, Werner spent eight years with The Walt Disney Company, where he served as Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Television. Between 1983 and 1988, Werner held senior business affairs positions at both Columbia Pictures Television and Viacom Enterprises.
Throughout its operation, WBDCD has stood as the industry’s premiere licensor of programming to broadcast, pay television and cable networks, having supplied thousands of feature films and hundreds of television series to a dozen broadcast networks, 30 pay television channels and more than 100 basic cable networks.
Under Frankel’s leadership, WBDCD has struck record-breaking deals for theatrical titles, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as well as significant deals for the Batman and Superman franchises, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Polar Express and long-term output deals with TBS, Oxygen and AMC.
In addition to the division’s feature film licensing activities, Frankel closed hundreds of high-profile television series deals including unmatched agreements for ER, The West Wing, Two and a Half Men, Friends, Without a Trace, Cold Case, Smallville, Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace.
Frankel was also actively involved in the development of pay-per-view/VOD events, including boxing and live concerts. He also oversaw the production and/or distribution of several original weekly series and regular specials for cable, broadcast and satellite television, including Hard Rock Live (VH-1), Russell Simmons’ Oneworld Music Beat (national syndication) and movies and network television specials from Warner Bros. Animation.