Aiming to step up its play for kids and young adults, Turner has consolidated its young-skewing TV and web properties into a new division under Stu Snyder, currently head of its online gaming service GameTap.
While continuing to oversee GameTap, Snyder will now manage Cartoon Network and all of its linear TV and digital entities around the world, as well as its two U.S. production centers. He also takes on the comedy-focused broadband site, Super Deluxe. Based in Atlanta, he reports to Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group.
The move in part resolves uncertainty created when Cartoon Network Executive VP/General Manager Jim Samples resigned in February, taking the fall for a marketing misstep--Aqua Teen Hunger Force signs mistaken for bombs in Boston--that cost the channel millions and ended a 13-year run at Turner.
Asked whether Turner is searching for a new GM to oversee Cartoon Network, Lazarus said the company hasn’t “posted any positions,” and that Snyder and the channel’s senior executives will determine how to structure leadership at the channel. Sources familiar with the situation, however, say Turner has been meeting with candidates for some kind of redefined leadership role at Cartoon.
“We’re going to focus on audience type and make sure we are experts for kids and young adults,” Lazarus said. “Are you going to hire someone who’s directly the GM for Cartoon Network and replicate the job that was there before? No. By no means would I say we’re blowing up a current structure and by no means will I say it will be the way it always was.”
Lazarus, who had been filling in as Cartoon’s chief since Samples’ departure, said he and Turner Chairman/CEO Phil Kent decided to consolidate the company’s kid and young-adult assets in one group to best leverage the company’s products targeting each age group. Cartoon Network’s late-night block, Adult Swim, for example, has a robust Web site whose content could be used on GameTap or Super Deluxe, both of which have operated in isolation from Cartoon.
“We want to be experts in kids and young adults and I don’t think having these [units] strewn across our company – some in isolation – was the best way to do it,” Lazarus said
Snyder, who ran Turner’s home video division early in his career, returned to the company in 2005 as senior VP/general manager of GameTap. Turner brass have been pleased with the site’s speedy progress – in 2006, the paid-subscription site added 500 titles, notched 20 million game-plays and tripled its subscriptions, according to the company.
Between his two stints at Turner, Snyder was president of USA Home Entertainment and president/COO of World Wrestling Entertainment before helping turn around the struggling Canadian production/distribution company CINAR.
He said he will get to know his direct reports and their divisions before deciding on any further restructuring, if any. “My first job is to listen and learn and look and it really is too early to assess what is next in regards to a reorganization, if one is even necessary,” he said. “I’m really coming into this with a clean sheet of paper.”