Fox Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly

Fox Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly

By
Victoria Chang, William Guttentag, Roderick Kramer
2009|Case No.EM6

Kevin Reilly, at forty-six years old, had one of his first television executive experiences in the drama department at NBC, had-like many others-experienced his fair share of drama. What he described as the “three toughest years of my career” were at NBC when he served as entertainment president from 2003 to 2007. Reilly had re-joined NBC, after having originally worked his way up the executive ladder there from 1988 to 1994. He joined the second time around, just as NBC- which had a record ratings and profit run in the mid-90’s to 2001-had begun a downward spiral brought about by a long development drought.

In a little over a month, Reilly became the President of Entertainment at the top-rated Fox network. Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Liguori, Reilly’s former boss at the FX Network (a Fox-owned cable network), approached Reilly about the prospect of gaining a chance to “do over” his experience at NBC. Reilly had worked with Liguori at FX (from 2000 to 2003), where Liguori had been chairman and Reilly entertainment president. This time around, Liguori hired Reilly to oversee all programming responsibilities for FOX Broadcasting Company. Reilly started at Fox in July 2007 but nearly four months later, he faced a writers’ strike, which hobbled the entertainment industry for most of the year, ending just as the nascent signs of the severe economic downturn had already begun to taken shape.

Despite such challenges, Reilly pushed forward, doing what he had done throughout his career, which was to challenge the system, question convention, and find and develop hit shows that appealed to general audiences and critics alike. He launched several shows, of which two were successes, Fringe and Lie to Me. He broke down the traditional program development cycle, often criticized as antiquated and inefficient, but rarely challenged by any network. Under Reilly, Fox forged a new year-round development system with pilots being developed on a rolling basis throughout the year, creating more flexibility and efficiency as to when they could be produced and debuted. He also launched a new mini-studio to identify and cultivate young talent for the multi-billion dollar animation business, which Fox alone has succeeded with in prime time since the premiere of the Simpsons almost 20 years ago.

This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff, as well as Stanford GSB alumni. For inquiries, contact the Case Writing Office.