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Universal Merges Digital Sales Into Home Entertainment Division

Digital sales will now fall under Home Entertainment President Craig Kornblau; no cuts expected

Universal Pictures is merging its digital sales group with its existing home entertainment division, bringing all elements of physical and electronic sell-through under one umbrella — a concession to the increased importance of online sales of its movies and TV shows.

Under the new structure, current Home Entertainment President Craig Kornblau will oversee the physical and digital sales, marketing and distribution operations for film and television. Though consolidations usually come with staffing cuts, but there will be no layoffs as part of Universal’s make-over, according to an individual with knowledge of the over-haul.

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As the home entertainment business shifts away from physical discs to become more digital, more and more media companies are breaking down divisions that had previously operated independently and regrouping them.  In recent years, studios like Warner Bros. and Paramount have moved to merge various home entertainment arms  as a way to streamline operations.

At the same time, digital sales and rentals of films are becoming an increasingly important part of a studio’s overall revenues. This year, for instance, electronic sales of movies is expected to top $1 billion in sales for the first time.

Also read: Fallout Over Universal Shake-Up: Adam Fogelson, Steve Burke and the Flubbed Firing

Although the company recently shook up its senior leadership last week, pushing out studio chairman Adam Fogelson and naming Jeff Shell to run NBCUniversal, the changes in the home entertainment division have been in the works for some time, the individual said.   Levinsohn, who joined Universal from Fox in July, has spearheaded the reorganization.

Under the restructuring,  Michael Bonner will continue to lead the domestic digital distribution team,  but his title will change to executive vice president, digital distribution.  Also, Jessica Schell will become executive vice president of new media and digital entertainment for Universal Pictures.

“Craig, Michael and Jessica are exceptional leaders in the home entertainment and new media space and I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented team of professionals who are committed to the successful distribution of Universal content across existing and emerging platforms,” Universal’s President and Chief Distribution Officer Peter Levinsohn said in a statement. “By realigning our operations, Universal will be better positioned strategically to take advantage of growth opportunities in every home entertainment window, which is critical to further expanding our business.”