In what will mark a seismic shift to the premium content landscape, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler — a 28-year company veteran who is responsible for culture-defining series like Game Of Thrones — has abruptly resigned.
Plepler announced his departure in a staff memo yesterday, writing, “Hard as it is to think about leaving the company I love, and the people I love in it, it is the right time for me to do so,” according to Variety. “I look forward over the coming weeks to thanking as many of you as I can for the thousands of contributions big and small that have made ‘this thing of ours’, to quote Tony Soprano, so special.”
He added that he would work with colleagues to ensure a seamless transition.
Plepler’s departure arrives amid shakeups at parent company AT&T, which acquired Time Warner roughly eight months ago for $85 billion, renaming its ensuing media entity WarnerMedia. To this end, Variety reports that WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey — a longtime AT&T exec — was recently in talks with another storied entertainment executive, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, for a role in which he would oversee HBO, Turner, and WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. This, Variety suggests, precipitated Plepler’s departure.
“Richard is one of the most successful executives in our industry and I have been fortunate to have his support over the last months,” Stankey told Variety in a statement. “His vision, energy, and passion helped to elevate HBO’s brand to what it has become today. Richard’s impact to our business and on the passionate viewers of HBO’s enduring programming will continue to be felt for years.”
After joining HBO in 1992, serving as co-president from 2007 to 2012 — before being upped to chairman and CEO — Plepler had a hand in developing game-changing shows over the years, including The Sopranos, Sex And The City, Veep, True Blood, and Big Little Lies. He also oversaw the launch of HBO’s digital business, including its HBO Go and HBO Now streaming services.