In a sign of the hotly competitive times, Turner has promoted Richard Warren to president of content distribution, hoping to fortify its position as traditional networks increasingly look to the digital world for revenue upside.
Warren replaces 23-year company veteran Coleman Breland, who segues to a newly created role as president of content experiences. Breland will also continue as president of TCM and its stand-alone subscription VOD service FilmStruck.
“Rich is a tremendous leader and has played an integral role in the growth and success of Turner’s content distribution division for the past 17 years,” said Turner president David Levy in announcing the change. “I have tremendous respect for Rich and I’m confident his extensive experience in the distribution space, and his relationships in the industry, as well as his strong and strategic deal-making abilities, will steer Turner to continued growth in the distribution space.”
The moves come as Turner parent Time Warner is preparing to merge with AT&T in a transformative deal that further raises the stakes for two massive traditional players trying to optimize their digital assets. More than many, Turner has managed to develop leading assets, from Bleacher Report in the sports realm to CNN Go, a TV Everywhere app that has thrived over the past year. But as the industry faces an array of new elements, from skinny bundle services to developing compelling apps that are both part of the bundle and available direct to consumers, the challenges are not insignificant.
In his expanded role, Warren will now oversee all brand distribution, affiliate marketing, interactive television and business development for Turner's 10 domestic entertainment, news and kids networks. He will also continue to lead strategic planning, business operations, and legal and business affairs. Previously, Warren served as executive vice president of content negotiations and strategy and associate general counsel. That role meant he was a key player in the company’s efforts to structure and negotiate Turner’s linear and digital content agreements with distribution partners.
In his new position, Breland will lead what the press release describes as a “cross-functional, company-wide initiative to explore new content strategies for business models both inside and outside the traditional TV ecosystem.” He will help the company overall take advantage of shifting consumer habits and technological advancements.
One of Breland’s projects has been the rollout of FilmStruck, a premium movie service that includes exclusive access to Criterion Collection film titles and other staples from the Turner Classic Movies library.