Media strategist and dealmaker Blair Westlake has been instrumental to establishing the business foundation of the modern entertainment industry. Across three decades, he has earned a reputation for deftly aligning the evolving world of entertainment, content licensing, and distribution with the latest consumer-facing technologies. In short, Westlake is a key architect of the emerging "watch whatever we want, wherever we want" media and entertainment experience.
During the dynamic period from 2004 to 2014, Westlake was Microsoft Corporation's executive responsible for relationships and deals with the global media and entertainment industries, including the Hollywood studios, broadcast and cable television networks, and the music industry. In that role, he led the company's global media and entertainment partnership development and shaped the policies that underpin today's online global content ecosystem. During his Microsoft tenure, these partnerships brought to the XBOX marketplace 300,000+ feature films and television programs, 17+ million songs, and an exclusive carriage agreement with the NFL. Notably, these landmark content deals also normalized the idea that devices traditionally removed from the internet should be web-connected, multimedia workhorses delivering a vast array of content to consumers.
He began his career as an attorney in the law department at MCA Inc. in 1982, and rose to become Chairman of Universal Television & Networks Group after holding various roles including Executive Vice President of the Universal Home Entertainment Group and President of Universal Pay Television. Among his accomplishments at Universal, Westlake successfully pivoted the traditional domestic syndication model into a global distribution network responsible for the command of the content marketplace the company still enjoys today. Westlake was also responsible for pioneering joint ventures with HBO Asia and Latin America and more than a dozen international channels, along with long-term, multibillion-dollar channel carriage and content licensing agreements with KirchGruppe, Canal Plus, Stream in Italy and Sogecable in Spain which, at the time, were at the unexplored frontier of the distribution and licensing universe. Westlake also oversaw the global licensing of Universal's post-home video library of more than 5,000 motion pictures and more than 40,000 television episodes, negotiating groundbreaking agreements with the former Tele-Communications Inc. and Encore Media for all of Universal's new release motion pictures, which led to the launch of the Starz premium movie channel, and later, the first-ever "split-slate" pay TV output deal with HBO and Starz.
A recognized leader in the media and entertainment industries, Westlake received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California and Juris Doctor from Whittier College School of Law. Westlake was the first recipient of the Whittier College School of Law Alumni Award for Business Excellence, also receiving awards from the Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel, the Video Hall of Fame, and the Digital Leadership Award from Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable.
Westlake is a member of the Board of: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) Entertainment Investment Company, Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., St. Louis, MoPop museum, founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, in Seattle, WA. He is a member of Television Academy (Emmys) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (Academy Awards). Westlake was formerly a member of the board and lead director of Cinedigm Corp. (NASDAQ: CIDM) and Cascade Public Media, which operates KCTS-9, the PBS television station for the Seattle-Tacoma/British Columbia markets (2014-2018).
On April 24, 2012, Westlake testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing on The Emergence of Online Video: Is It The Future? His testimony may be viewed here.