Jeff Blackburn, one of Amazon’s highest-ranking and longest-serving executives, is returning to the company after a brief hiatus and will serve as senior vice president of a new Global Media & Entertainment division.
The role makes Blackburn Amazon’s most powerful person in Hollywood, with oversight of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, as well as Amazon’s music, podcast and gaming businesses.
“Jblack’s interest in returning to Amazon presented us with a good opportunity to combine our entertainment businesses in a single org under a leader who knows them well,” Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services and soon-to-be CEO of Amazon, said in a memo.
Amazon has been aggressively ramping up its investments in media and entertainment, with $11 billion spent on TV series, movies and music in 2020, a 41 percent increase on its investments in 2019.
Amazon Studios has allocated at least $465 million for the first season of “Lord of the Rings” alone, an unprecedented budget for a streaming show.
The company has also upped its investments in Prime Video, which now has more than 175 million members globally and recently won the exclusive rights for NFL Thursday Night Football starting in 2022.
Blackburn, who joined Amazon in 1998 and was instrumental in growing its media business, took a year-long sabbatical in 2020 before leaving the company in February of this year. He will return to the company on June 7 and will report to CEO Jeff Bezos until Bezos hands the reins to Jassy in the summer.