- Amazon has hired former Sony executive Mike Hopkins to lead its Prime Video, movie and television studios.
- Hopkins will take over the entertainment duties that were previously overseen by Jeff Blackburn and will report directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC.
- Blackburn, Amazon's SVP of business and corporate development, is on a one-year sabbatical until 2021.
Hopkins is set to join Amazon on February 24 and will report directly to CEO Jeff Bezos, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. In his new role, Hopkins will oversee Amazon's streaming service Prime Video and Amazon Studios, its movie and television unit. Hopkins most recently served as chairman of Sony Pictures Television. He joined Sony in 2017 after spending four years as CEO of Hulu.
Hopkins will assume the entertainment duties that were overseen by Jeff Blackburn, Amazon's senior vice president of business and corporate development. Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, and Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Video, will now report to Hopkins.
"I have had the pleasure of working closely with many of you as we've built these video businesses from the ground up," Blackburn said in an internal memo obtained by CNBC. "You've created a global streaming service and award-winning original content that our customers love. And I know you're only getting started."
News of the change was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.
CNBC previously reported that Blackburn, who is responsible for a number of businesses at Amazon, was taking a one-year sabbatical and would return in 2021. Blackburn is one of the longest-serving executives at the company and his name is often mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Bezos, should he ever choose to step down.
Blackburn and Hart are members of Bezos's S-Team, which is a group of top executives who report directly to Bezos. The team doesn't typically see much turnover, though SVP of marketplace Sebastian Gunningham left Amazon for WeWork in 2018, while SVP of international business Diego Piacentini left Amazon in December of 2018.
Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra also confirmed Hopkins' departure in an internal memo obtained by CNBC. Sony will not replace Hopkins' role at the company, but will instead distribute some of his duties to Keith LeGoy, president of worldwide distribution, and Jeff Frost, president of U.S. Production.
"I want to thank Mike for his outstanding leadership since arriving at the studio in late 2017," Vinciquerra said in the memo. "From day one he was charged with rethinking the way we run our television businesses. Under his watch, [Sony Pictures Television] has been transformed into a stronger and more nimble organization, able to pivot and change course quickly in today's rapidly evolving entertainment landscape."
Here's the full email Blackburn sent to Amazon employees:
Prime Video & Amazon Studios teams:
Hi, I wanted to provide an update today — and share some exciting news with you.
Effective February 24th, Mike Hopkins will be joining Amazon as SVP for Prime Video & Amazon Studios, reporting to Jeff Bezos. At that time, Jen Salke and Greg Hart will move and report into Mike.
Mike comes to us with over 20 years of industry experience at Fox, Hulu, and Sony. He has an extensive track record as a global business leader in media, film and TV — negotiating landmark content and distribution agreements, running marketing operations, leading product/tech teams, and overseeing production of breakthrough television content.
I have had the pleasure of working closely with many of you as we've built these video businesses from the ground up. You've created a global streaming service and award-winning original content that our customers love. And I know you're only getting started.
I'm so excited for Mike to join Jen and Greg, and the broader video leadership team, and build upon the global momentum we've experienced in 2019. I look forward to seeing how you'll delight customers in the months to come — will be fun to watch!
-- CNBC's Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.