Benjamin Feingold, dubbed "Blu-ray Ben" for his leadership role in spearheading industry support for the next-gen format, has exited his post as Worldwide Home Video President at Sony after 12 years.
Feingold first assumed his presidency at Sony back when it was Columbia TriStar Home Video, and he quickly earned praise from all sectors of the industry. He was a pioneer in the acquisition of third-party product and the production of direct-to-video sequels -- both of which are common practice at the major studios -- and along with ex-Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, was integral in launching the DVD format. Which, of course, went on to become the most successful new product introduction in the history of consumer electronics.
More recently, Feingold has been one of Hollywood's most aggressive backers of Blu-ray, earning him the nickname "Blu-ray Ben." He's also championed digital downloading and other alternative entertainment delivery options.
Taking over for Feingold as Sony's new president of worldwide home entertainment is David Bishop, the veteran MGM Home Entertainment chief who joined Sony in May 2005 after a consortium led by the studio bought MGM. At the time, Bishop was tapped as president of worldwide brand integration by Sony, a position created to manage Sony's assumption of the MGM catalog.
How this changing of the guard at Sony will affect the studio's upcoming Blu-ray plans remains to be seen. Regime changes at the highest studio levels historically have brought with them sweeping internal overhauls, though no one is expecting Sony to suddenly lessen support for the next-gen format they were integral in developing.
If nothing else, the exit of Feingold comes at a crucial time for the Blu-ray format. Early press for Blu-ray has been mixed, while rival HD DVD has outperformed even the most optimistic industry expectations, both in terms of sales and positive buzz from early adopters. The format could certainly use the leadership and passion of a "Blu-ray Ben" right now, so Sony should only hope that "Blu-ray Bishop" will ultimately have the same ring to it. We'll see...