Peter Chernin's decision to leave News Corp after 12-plus years as COO set off a series of dominoes that will be rippling for months to come. As part of the response, Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch combined all LA-based creative contentmovies and TVunder Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Now Gianopulos and Rothman are getting their own digital content head as Pete Levinsohn moves from president of Fox Interactive Media to president of new media and digital distribution for Fox Filmed Entertainment. Some details of Levinsohn's new job, which won't be announced until Monday, emerged with the news that Jon Miller plans to join News Corp. as chief digital officer, with operating responsibility that includes MySpace and the other units of FIM, as well as Jamba.
But Levinsohn will be responsible for managing the online, mobile and gaming aspects of all content created for Fox Filmed Entertainment and for developing content for those platforms. As part of that, paidContent has learned, Fox Mobile Entertainment will be moved from Jamba into Levinsohn's portfolio. He also could wind up on the board of Hulu. Bottom line: Levinsohn's new bosses control the creative content and, as I understand it, Levinsohn will control the way it's used as well as the way it's developed for cross-platform use. It's not a bigger job than running the group that includes MySpace, but it could be a lot more satisfying.
Still, for all that Fox has accomplished in this area, it hasn't come close to meeting its potential. As president of digital media for Fox Entertainment before FIM, Levinsohn and his team made distribution deals with iTunes, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and the movie download services, and set up the digital revenue sharing agreement with Fox affiliates, among other deals. His operational experience at FIM matched with this digital rights background puts him in a unique position. Will he be able to convert that into success? A lot will depend on what kind of group he's able to put together.
Fox Digital Media: This will effectively put an end to Fox Digital Media, headed by Dan Fawcett; he succeeded Levinsohn in that job, returning to Fox in 2007 after a stint with DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) when News Corp (NYSE: NWS). was the majority shareholder. Sources have said they expect Fawcett to get another position at Fox, possibly in the Fox Networks Group headed by Tony Vinciquerra. FDM has been an odd hybrid, responsible for distribution deals, for working with Fox network websites and for making some acquisitions like Beliefnet. Fawcett is on the Hulu board; that seat probably would go to Gianopulos, Rothman or, more likely given his job, Levinsohn.
By Staci D. Kramer