Blair Westlake, Microsoft Corporation
As the corporate vice president of the Media & Entertainment Group of Microsoft Corp., Blair Westlake liaises with the media and entertainment industries globally, including Hollywood studios, broadcasters, cable and satellite programmers, and the music industry. Within the Interactive Entertainment Business Division at Microsoft, Westlake directs a group responsible for business development, policies and all content licensing for various services and devices including Xbox, Zune, Windows PCs and Windows Phones. Westlake joined Microsoft in August 2004 and is based at the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters.
Westlake has more than 25 years of diverse experience encompassing home video, pay and free television distribution, video-on-demand, nontheatrical content distribution (e.g., airlines and hotels), television production, physical studio operations, international thematic channels development and management, strategic planning for a global television business unit, magazine publishing, and theme parks.
Before joining Microsoft, Westlake consulted for media companies, including Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal, and was corporate executive vice president of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. Westlake was an executive of Universal Studios Inc. from 1982-2000, where he was chairman of Universal Television & Networks Group. He joined MCA Inc., which was later renamed Universal Studios, as an attorney in the law department, and subsequently held various positions within Universal, including executive vice president of the Universal Home Entertainment Group and president of Universal Pay Television.
Under Westlake’s leadership, the company broke new ground in creating strategic alliances to build the Universal brand in the global television arena, including long-term, multibillion-dollar channel carriage and content licensing agreements with Germany’s KirchGruppe, France’s Canal Plus, Stream in Italy and Sogecable in Spain. He was instrumental in the formation of various multiparty joint ventures, leading to the creation of a dozen international channels, including HBO Asia, Telecine premium movie channel in Brazil, Cinecanal premium movie channel in Latin America, the Premium Movie Partnership (Showtime and Encore movie channels) in Australia, TV1 channel in Australia, RTL7 channel partnership (with Bertelsmann) in Poland, and Star Channel in Japan.
Westlake 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 and managed the library’s distribution across all media. In 1993, Westlake negotiated a groundbreaking agreement 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. In 2000, he devised and negotiated the first-ever “split-slate” pay TV output deal with HBO and Starz.
A recognized leader in the media and entertainment industries, Westlake was the first recipient of the Whittier College School of Law Alumni Award for Business Excellence in 2002. In December 2007, he received the Special Founders Award from the Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel, the leading trade association serving general counsel and business affairs attorneys at media and entertainment companies, and was inducted into the Video Hall of Fame in December 2009.
Westlake is a member of the board of trustees of The Paley Center for Media in New York, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy Awards), the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (Academy Awards), the executive committee of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (iEmmy Awards), and the board of directors of the Digital Entertainment Group. He is also a member of the board of trustees for the Experience Music Project, founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, in Seattle.
Westlake is admitted to the State Bar of California.