HBO COO Eric Kessler exits; position won't be filled

HBO COO Eric Kessler exits; position won't be filled
A photo of Eric Kessler. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

HBO Chief Operating Officer Eric Kessler, who rose from a marketing manager to become the No. 2 executive at the powerful pay-TV network, is departing.

Kessler's exit comes just about a year after Richard Plepler was named chief executive of HBO. Kessler and Plepler had been co-presidents of the Time Warner unit when then-CEO Bill Nelson announced his retirement.

In a memo to staff, Plepler praised Kessler's almost three decades of service to HBO. It was Kessler who is credited with coming up with the "It's Not TV, It's HBO" slogan that was a hallmark of the network for many years.

"Eric has been an uncommonly valued colleague and friend to all of us at HBO," Plepler wrote. His accomplishments have helped shape the company throughout its modern history."

In recent years, Kessler had focused much of his efforts in building out HBO's digital platforms, including the popular service HBO Go.

Plepler said HBO will not fill Kessler's position because "[a]fter careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO."

Kessler is the second major departure from HBO in recent weeks, which is unusual as the company is known for its executive stability.

Last month, Sue Naegle resigned as president of entertainment. Like Kessler's role, her position as No. 2 to programming chief Michael Lombardo is not being filled.


Twitter: @JBFlint