Amazon leisure head, Jeff Blackburn, to retire

A key architect of Amazon Prime Video, Jeff Blackburn, is retiring from the e-retailing big.

Blackburn has lengthy been a pillar at Amazon, considered one of founder Jeff Bezos’ trusted high deputies for greater than 20 years.

He joined the Seattle-based firm in 1998 after serving to the then-nascent bookseller navigate its IPO into the general public markets whereas at Deutsche Financial institution. Blackburn’s affiliation with Amazon spans practically 1 / 4 century.

The favored govt helped construct vital divisions through the years, together with Amazon Studios and Prime Video in addition to its promoting, music and third-party market companies.

He took a sabbatical for greater than a yr, however returned to Amazon in Might 2021. Since then, Blackburn has been the uber-head of Amazon’s media and leisure companies, which incorporates the Culver Metropolis-based movie and tv studio and its music, podcasts, Audible, video games and Twitch divisions.

“The last 18 months have been a thrill — working with all of you in [Global Media and Entertainment] and launching some of our biggest, boldest projects ever in entertainment and sports,” Blackburn wrote in a Friday morning memo to workers. “But I’ve decided to spend 2023 differently, giving more time to family, and feel strongly this is the right decision for me.”

Earlier than Blackburn rejoined the corporate, “Amazon media seemed to be thrashing quite a bit, trying to find its place in the world,” stated Rob Enderle, principal analyst at advisory companies agency Enderle Group.

“He seemed to bring a certain amount of stability and directional competence into the effort and at least from an outside observer, it looked like during his tenure things had improved in the media department,” Enderle added, referencing Amazon’s efforts to broaden its leisure choices in soccer and podcasts.

Mike Hopkins will proceed his management position overseeing Prime Video, Amazon Studios, and MGM, the corporate stated within the assertion. Hopkins will now report on to CEO Andy Jassy reasonably than Blackburn. Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke studies to Hopkins.

Steve Increase will run the Audible, Twitch and Video games enterprise along with his present portfolio of Music and Podcasting. Increase additionally will report back to Jassy.

In his e mail to the workers, Jassy famous a number of main milestones the leisure unit achieved throughout Blackburn’s tenure during the last yr and a half.

Amazon’s huge swing with the J.R.R. Tolkien “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” set data for Prime Video viewership, Jassy stated within the memo, noting the sequence has “driven more Prime sign-ups worldwide during its launch window than any other previous content.”

Amazon’s presentation of “Thursday Night Football on Prime” has been a runaway success, hauling in greater audiences in comparison with its outcomes final yr on broadcast TV. Amazon stated audiences for Thursday evening video games have grown 20% in contrast with final season among the many demographic of 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

As the standard TV viewers continues to grow old and smaller, sports activities leagues are anticipated to proceed extra contests on streaming platforms to replenish their fan bases.

“Amazon wouldn’t be the same company without Jeff, and I’d like to thank him for his many contributions to the company’s success thus far and in the future,” Jassy wrote.

This govt transition will happen Jan. 1, though Blackburn will stay at Amazon by early 2023, Jassy stated.

Workers writers Wendy Lee and Stephen Battaglio contributed to this report.