In remarks made during a company celebration on Thursday of HBO Max’s first anniversary, Jason Kilar declared that he has no immediate plans to step down as CEO of WarnerMedia in the wake of the announcement of its merger with Discovery Inc.
“My plan and my focus is to remain here in my CEO role at WarnerMedia,” said Kilar, according to a Wall Street Journal report. “I am not thinking right now about post-merger. There will be a time to consider that topic in 2022… I believe we have unfinished business, and the work of the next year can and should be extremely fulfilling as the world continues to see what we are capable of doing.”
A statement on Thursday from John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, appeared to confirm a second year for Kilar: “Jason’s leadership and capabilities have been central to positioning WarnerMedia for renewed growth, and I am excited about what we will see during his second year at the helm.”
The merger is expected to be completed in mid 2022.
As part of the official reveal of the $43-billion merger on May 17, it was announced that Discovery CEO David Zaslav would lead the newly combined, as yet unnamed, company.
Kilar’s role was not mentioned in remarks by Stankey and Zaslav at the time — until, after the question was raised twice, Stankey confirmed that Kilar was still WarnerMedia CEO. He added: “David’s got decisions to make across a broad cross-section of how he wants to organize the business and who will be in what roles moving forward in this transition period.”
By the following day, The New York Times and other media were reporting that Kilar, who was said to have been given just one day’s notice of the deal to be announced on May 17, had hired a legal team to negotiate his exit.
Kilar, the founding CEO of Hulu, was tapped for the top WarnerMedia job only a year ago, just before the company’s launch of its HBO Max streaming service.
During his first year in the job, he oversaw a major reorganization and gained notoriety for his controversial, groundbreaking decision to break with the traditional cinematic preview window for movies and begin releasing blockbusters on HBO Max simultaneously with theater release.