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Warner Shakes Up Its Home Video Unit

The studio puts all home entertainment including games and online offerings in one division.

October 26, 2005|Claudia Eller | Times Staff Writer

Warner Bros. Entertainment on Tuesday shook up its lucrative home video division, ousting its president and folding the unit into a new structure that underscores the studio's future in delivering movies and TV shows digitally.

Kevin Tsujihara, an 11-year studio veteran, was named president of the newly formed Warner Home Entertainment Group. He will oversee video, wireless and online operations, games and the studio's anti-piracy efforts. He also will be responsible for the new Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, including video-on-demand, electronic video sales, pay-per-view and emerging technologies.

Tsujihara, who turned 41 on Tuesday, had been the studio's point person for new media initiatives, business development and strategic planning.

In consolidating its home entertainment businesses under one leader, Warner also reshuffled the top management of its video operation, naming Executive Vice President Ron Sanders to replace James Cardwell as president of Warner Home Video.

In an interview Tuesday, Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer and President Alan Horn said Tsujihara would keep the studio ahead of the curve in the fast-changing arena of new media and technology.

"We needed one centralized voice that spoke to the global strategy of how we're going to distribute our content on existing and new digital platforms," Meyer said.

Horn added that "we wanted to address the changing needs of consumers and provide them with more choices in how they view our content."

Warner is seeking to maintain its leadership position in technology among Hollywood studios. Under former home video chief Warren Lieberfarb, Warner pioneered development of DVDs, which for studios have become the most lucrative area of their business.

Like other studios, Warner has been struggling with an industrywide slowdown in growth of DVD sales. Although new technologies offer the promise of fresh revenue, many studios haven't been able to prevent digital pirates from stealing their movies and TV shows.

Studios are working with the developers of the next generation of high-definition DVDs, which will feature much sharper pictures along with better copyright protections. Warner was an early supporter of Toshiba Corp.'s HD DVD. But last week the studio announced it also would back Sony Corp.'s rival Blu-ray system and plans to release its movies in both formats.

Tsujihara, who has been spearheading those efforts for the studio, said his vision of the new home entertainment group involved taking full advantage of Warner's already formidable global distribution network. That will include selling DVDs in existing and new formats, as well as exploiting digital methods of delivering films and TV shows as they develop.

"We believe that by coordinating and leveraging the two, we will be able to create a new growth engine for our company," Tsujihara said in an interview.

Tsujihara had been executive vice president of corporate business development and strategy for the last three years. Before that, he was executive vice president of new media, where he oversaw Warner's brief Internet foray, Entertaindom.com.

Tsujihara joined Warner in 1994 to help manage the company's then-interest in the Six Flags theme parks.

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