Wondery Founder Hernan Lopez Launches Owl & Co. Consulting Firm Focusing on Media and Technology

Hernan Lopez, the former 21st Century Fox executive who launched podcasting giant Wondery in 2016, has set up consulting firm Owl & Co. aimed at delivering data and analysis designed to help media and entertainment businesses manage the transition to the streaming era.

Lopez has put early emphasis on a deep-dive study of the streaming content marketplace, using available viewership and spending data to crunch the ROI numbers based on the cost of TV series and movies. After a decade of Peak TV production activity, scrutiny of such expenditures is increasing in Hollywood’s C-suites. Among Lopez’s first wave of clients is North Road Co., the film and TV production and distribution company formed last year by Peter Chernin, who was previously Lopez’s boss at Fox.

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“I think we are at an inflection point in our industry, where lots of companies are looking at their slates and their business models and looking at ways to better drive economic value,” Lopez tells Variety. “There was a significant change in the industry [in December] when Netflix made viewership data available for 18,000 titles. I think that was the beginning of more transparency in viewership data, not less.”

Owl & Co. marks the beginning of Lopez’s next chapter after nearly three years of legal battles with the federal prosecutors in New York who indicted him in 2020 on bribery and conspiracy charges in connection with TV rights deals for soccer leagues and tournaments in Latin America and other markets during his tenure as president of the Fox International Channels division. He was convicted in March 2023 but that decision has been overturned. Lopez has steadfastly denied engaging in wrongdoing.

Last September, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Chen ruled that there “the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain defendants’ convictions” under the statutes cited by prosectors in New York’s Eastern District. Prosecutors have appealed the judge’s decision.

“I never should have been indicted, but I’m glad the judge got to the right outcome,” Lopez said. “I’m excited about the future ahead, and putting this whole ordeal behind me.”

A native of Argentina, Lopez spent 18 years as a senior TV executive at Fox. He was a key architect of the company’s international expansion strategy through the Fox International Channels division. He also spearheaded the company’s short-lived Spanish-language network MundoFox.

Lopez exited 21st Century Fox in January 2016 to launch Wondery, which received early investment support from Fox. Lopez was an early entrant into the podcast network sector. Amazon acquired Wondery in late 2020.

Lopez credits the entrepreneurial environment at Fox for helping him to be comfortable with the data and high-level analysis to help guide decision-making in a business that is anything but predictable.

“We were always encouraged to look at data and be very fluent in understanding reasearch and viewing patterns and how to connect them to creative decisions and business decisions,” Lopez said. “I’ve always been very comfortable digging into data. I know there are larger opportunities to help players across the industry.”

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