Rich Battista, the former executive of Fox and Time Inc., has been named CEO of Imagine Entertainment, chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard announced Monday.
Battista will be based at the company’s Beverly Hills headquarters and begin effective immediately. He replaces Charlie Corwin in the role, who resigned from Imagine Entertainment last year.
“We are excited to have Rich join Imagine. He brings with him a unique perspective and years of expertise and experience growing and expanding businesses, and we are confident in his ability to build upon Imagine’s success,” Grazer and Howard said in a joint statement.
“I am thrilled to be joining Brian, Ron and the entire team at Imagine during this dynamic time in the areas of media, entertainment and content,” Battista said in a statement. “The company’s expansion in recent years globally and across new lines of business has been impressive to watch from afar and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and collaborating with the team as the company is uniquely positioned to execute on its ambitious growth plans.”
Battista was most recently president and CEO of Time Inc., before overseeing the $2.8 billion sale of the company to Meredith Corp. Time Inc. spun out of Time Warner into a separate publicly traded company in 2014. Before that, he spent two years as CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, which created, acquired and invested in businesses and content across the sports media landscape.
For 18 years prior, Battista held several senior management roles across Fox, specifically in leading its portfolio of cable networks. As President of Fox’s National Cable Networks, he oversaw FX, National Geographic Channel, Speed Channel and Fox Deportes.
From 2004 to 2008, Battista was CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide International, where he led the turnaround of the company and the revitalization of TV Guide magazine and TV Guide Network. He then directed the sale of the company for $2.3 billion in 2008.
At Fox, his prior roles included executive vice president, business development and strategy for Fox Entertainment Group (FEG), including the development and oversight of the “American Idol” website, executive vice president, Fox Television and executive vice president of Fox Sports International.
Additionally, he was co-founder and CEO of iFUSE, a youth culture digital media company. He served as CEO of LodgeNet Interactive and formed Pontiac Digital Media, through which he created and invested in digital media properties. Battista began his career as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley and is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Business School.
The hire comes at a time of growth for Imagine, which has expanded their documentary, kids and family, live theater and other content verticals. In 2018, Grazer and Howard launched Impact, a global content accelerator currently in its third session. Imagine also formed a joint venture with Animal Logic, an animation company, to create animated and hybrid family films, and made an investment in Marginal Mediaworks to expand into controlled budget films and other mediums from marginalized voices.
In early 2018, Imagine also invested in Jax Media, which is behind the comedies “Russian Doll,” “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” “Broad City,” and “Younger.”
In 2017, Imagine entered into a $100 million TV co-financing venture with Hong Kong based TVB, as well as a co-financing arrangement with CBS Television Studios.