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The Five Spot: Rich Warren

Bonus FiveCurrent Shows on DVR: Watched first three episodes of The Alienist, the rest are DVRed. Also Live PD.All-Time Favorite Show: Hill Street Blues.Favorite app: Next Door. “It’s interesting because of that sense of community.”What is your favorite podcast? Preet Bharara’s Stay Tuned. “He’s a smart guy,” said Warren, also a lawyer. “His point of view is more interesting than mine.”What books are on your nightstand? Just finished Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff."

Growing up in New Jersey, Rich Warren, president of content distribution at Turner, wanted to be a lawyer. He became a litigator, but things soon changed.

He moved to Atlanta for what he thought would be a couple of years. Two decades later, his parents cringe at having grandchildren who say “y’all.”

Instead of litigating, which produces winners and losers, Warren prefers win-win solutions in the transactions he negotiates. He manages Turner’s distribution division, overseeing strategic partnerships, business development account management, finance and legal.

When he has time, Warren likes to bicycle, ideally putting in about 100 miles per week. Family time with wife Halli Cohn and daughters Sydney and Carly is also a priority. “Being able to spend quality time with them is pretty critical.”

Warren spoke with B&C senior content producer – business Jon Lafayette.

How did you start at Turner?

My wife had a former colleague, a lawyer who was here at Turner. On occasion she would reach out to my wife and say, ‘Turner is looking for X or Y, do you know anyone?’ She reached out to my wife and said, ‘Hey do you know anyone interested in program acquisition work?’ and my wife said, ‘Well, how about Rich?’ It wasn’t the job I was qualified for, but it opened my eyes to the potential to join Turner. About a year later, I got a call from someone at Turner saying, would you be interested in a distribution job? And the rest is history.

With the television industry changing so much, is it good you were new to the business?

[Longtime Turner distribution chief] Andy Heller hired me, and asked, ‘Do you have any questions?’ I said, ‘I’ve got a question for you. Why do you want to hire someone who has never worked in media and is a litigator versus a transactional lawyer?’ Andy, who has been a mentor and is a really good judge of what a business needs, said to me, ‘I want someone who doesn’t come here understanding the business. But I want someone who can understand what happens when things go wrong as a litigator who has to clean up the mess and fix it.’

Tell me about a recent interesting deal.

They’re all different and complex, but one that comes to mind is our YouTube TV deal. The OTT vMVPD [virtual multichannel video programming distributor] space is very new and both sides are thinking about the evolution of the business. The platform is IP-delivered, so you’re addressing things like dynamic ad serving in a different way; you’re looking at user interface and search and discovery and navigation. And then we have things like concurrent streams and password sharing.

What’s the best part of the business?

The best part undoubtedly is the people. Some of my closest friends are professional friends I’ve developed over my 18 years in the business. We’ve got a really tightknit, good group of people who by and large all respect each other and they all appreciate, where the business is and the challenges in the business.

What’s the worst part of the business?

My wife and kids would tell you it’s the end-of-the-year deals, not being around for the holidays. My daughter, who now is going to be 21, said to me years ago as they were heading out to my in-laws in in St. Louis for Christmas, ‘Daddy are you going to be able to join?’ And I said no. And she said, ‘Daddy, can I ask you a question? Doesn’t the other side celebrate the holidays?’