HBO President, COO Eric Kessler to Depart

Premium Programmer Won't Fill COO Position

Eric Kessler, president and COO of HBO, will leave the company, CEO Richard Plepler said in an internal memo Friday.

"After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO," said Plepler. Kessler had been with HBO for 27 years.

HBO will not fill the COO position as part of executive streamlining.

Kessler's departure comes two weeks after entertainment president Sue Naegle exited her post to launch a production company. The move leaves Plepler as the only top executive at HBO. Plepler was promoted to CEO last year when Bill Nelson retired; Kessler was upped to president & COO at that time as well.

Plelper's full memo is below:

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Eric Kessler will be leaving HBO.  After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO.

It is important to say that this in no way reflects on the extraordinary talents that Eric has so ably demonstrated in his 27 years at HBO.  His accomplishments have helped shape the company throughout its modern history.   Eric has been an uncommonly valued colleague and friend to all of us at HBO. While his many contributions could not adequately be reflected here, they are indeed numerous and lasting - in fact, we are currently completing one of our strongest years ever. Eric launched several iconic marketing and advertising campaigns - most notably the award winning "It's Not TV. It's HBO" - and his influence is visible on screen through HBO's lauded on-air promotional efforts.   Since 2007, Eric has overseen the distribution of the HBO and Cinemax networks in both domestic and international markets. In addition to the pay television channels, he oversaw the worldwide sale of HBO's programming through licensing, DVD and digital distribution.  Eric was an early champion of our digital future - he was central in establishing our relationship with iTunes (Apple), driving the exploration of mobile experiences, and ultimately leading the development and worldwide launch of HBO GO. HBO GO is an essential innovation for HBO and without Eric and his team, it would not have emerged as what is widely regarded as television's most elegant digital product.  Eric's grace and professionalism are a tribute to his passion and commitment to HBO. He has agreed to work with us during a transition period to ensure continuity.  During this period, Rob Roth, Otto Berkes, Shelley Brindle, Pam Levine and Simon Sutton will report to me.

Words are insufficient to express our gratitude, appreciation and respect for a beloved colleague.  It is indisputable that he will immediately be inducted into the HBO Hall of Fame.