Time Warner Chairman Jeff Bewkes said Kevin Tsujihara's knowledge of Warner Bros.'s myriad businesses — from DVDs to consumer products — was what earned him the top job at the studio.
"I chose him because I think he’s got the greatest breadth of experience across Warner’s businesses," Bewkes told analysts on Wednesday.
Tsujihara has run Warner’s home entertainment division since 2005, where he has driven its digital strategy, overseeing its investments in things like UltraViolet, the cloud-based home entertainment eco-system studios hope will bolster sales of movies and shows.
Still his appointment as Warner Bros. CEO stunned many analysts, who had expected the studio's television chief Bruce Rosenblum to take the reins. Time Warner’s small-screen divisions are responsible for about 80 percent of its profits, a financial reality that seemed to bolster Rosenblum's candidacy.
Jeff Robinov, who heads the Warner Bros. film division, was also in contention for the CEO job.
In the immediate aftermath of the decision last month, Rosenblum released a statement saying he was "disappointed" about being passed over in favor of Tsujihara, while Robinov's statement was more laudatory, saying the newly minted CEO was an "excellent choice." Analysts are watching closely to see if Rosenblum or Robinov feel jilted enough to depart Warner Bros. for another media company.
Bewkes dodged the question of whether or not the two executives would remain now that they are under Tsujihara's authority, but he implied that they had bright futures at the company if they wanted to stay on board.
"We’ve got really a strong next generation at Warner's," Bewkes said.
"All of them are young enough to go pretty long," he added.
Tsujihara is 48, Rosenblum is 54, as is Robinov.
The Time Warner chief said Rosenblum was "on a roll" thanks to hit shows like "The Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men," while Robinov's film division consistently outperformed competitors at other studios.
Tsujihara will take over as CEO from longtime chief Barry Meyer on March 1.