Henry W. McGee - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Henry W. McGee

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

General Management

Henry McGee joined the HBS faculty in 2013 after retiring as President of HBO Home Entertainment, the digital and DVD program distribution division of Home Box Office, the world’s leading premium television company.  A member of the General Management Unit, he has taught courses in both the MBA and Executive Education programs.Since 2015 he has served as a director of TEGNA (NYSE: TGNA), a broadcast and digital media company that owns the largest number of affiliates of both the NBC and CBS television networks.  He is also a director of AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC), one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical services company and number 16 on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest corporations in America.

Since becoming a faculty member, McGee has co-authored a number of media industry cases and is a member of the school’s Digital Initiative and Business History Initiative. He is also a director of the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.

McGee joined HBO immediately after graduating from HBS in 1979. During the course of his 34-year career with the company, he held posts in a wide range of areas including family programming, film acquisition and international co-production.  Named president of HBO Home Entertainment in 1995, McGee received numerous industry awards for his pioneering use of Internet-based marketing and early adoption of the high definition format for the company’s DVD releases. Named one of the 50 most powerful African Americans in the entertainment business by Black Enterprise magazine, McGee oversaw the digital and DVD release of numerous blockbusters including The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Band of Brothers and Game of Thrones. With the launch of offices in London and Toronto, he drove the expansion of the company’s international business and HBO’s titles are now distributed in more than 70 countries around the globe. McGee also served as a director of the Digital Entertainment Group, the trade association of entertainment and electronics manufacturers focused on fostering new technologies. In 2008 he was inducted into the Video Hall of Fame, the home entertainment industry’s most prestigious honor.

McGee has a strong interest in the governance of non-profit organizations and has been especially involved in the arts. He has served as president of both the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation, the nation’s largest modern dance organization, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  He has also been a board member of the Sundance Institute, The Public Theater, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the New 42nd Street, the organization overseeing the revitalization and management of seven historic theaters in Times Square. Currently he is a member of the executive committee of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, the board of overseers of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Global Advisory Council of the Silk Road Project.

After graduating from Harvard College, magna cum laude, in 1974, McGee worked as a reporter for Newsweek magazine in its New York and Washington bureaus.  He covered stories in the fields of politics, foreign affairs, education and entertainment and also served as an on-camera reporter for Newsweek Broadcasting.

Journal Articles
Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. Hulu: Redefining the Way People Experience TV

    Henry McGee and Christine Snively

    In May 2017, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the launch of Hulu Live TV, a new offering that would "change the way people experience TV." The new service would allow consumers to bypass traditional cable and satellite delivery and use the Internet to access live streams of more than 40 popular broadcast and cable networks along with Hulu’s existing suite of on-demand programming. Priced at $39.99 per month, Hulu Live TV offered consumers a tremendous savings over traditional cable program packages and allowed subscribers to watch programs on Internet-connected televisions and a wide range of mobile devices. Hopkins also announced that the company would make a major push into the production of exclusive, original programming, one of the industry's most competitive areas. Hulu's new initiatives occurred during a major transformation in the TV industry as the Internet had revolutionized every aspect of the business. Industry observers wondered if Hulu could successfully compete against the entrenched cable, satellite, and telephone companies (known as Multichannel Video Programming Distributors, or MVPDs). Was $39.99 per month a sustainable price point for Hulu's new virtual MVPD (vMVPD)? How big a war chest would the company need to succeed in the original programming arena where competitors annually spent billions of dollars? Could Hulu navigate potential conflicts with the individual business plans of its owners: Comcast, 21st Century Fox, Disney, and Warner Bros., some of the most powerful companies in the entertainment business?

    Keywords: television industry; internet; disruptive innovation; competitive strategy; Television Entertainment; Internet; Disruptive Innovation; Competitive Strategy; Price; Media and Broadcasting Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


    McGee, Henry, and Christine Snively. "Hulu: Redefining the Way People Experience TV." Harvard Business School Case 318-002, September 2017.  View Details
  2. The Black List

    Henry McGee and Sarah McAra

    Franklin Leonard founded The Black List in 2005 as an innovative approach to identifying potential hit movie scripts via crowdsourcing. As the annual Black List proved to hold the scripts of some of Hollywood’s most successful films, from “Slumdog Millionaire” to “Spotlight,” it became widely respected and highly anticipated throughout the industry. In 2012, Leonard uses the momentum to bring The Black List online as a database where unproduced screenplays can be reviewed and discovered by industry experts. Now in 2016, Leonard is considering other avenues for supporting great screenwriters, including launching a film fund to finance low-budget productions. He reflects on the movie-making business and on the numerous barriers to entry he may face in entering the competitive motion picture industry.

    Keywords: screenwriting; independent production; Hollywood; film development; film distribution; film financing; manging uncertainty; Barriers to entry; globalization; digitalization; Film Entertainment; Entrepreneurship; Marketing; Media; Strategy; Motion Pictures and Video Industry; United States;


    McGee, Henry, and Sarah McAra. "The Black List." Harvard Business School Case 317-027, November 2016. (Revised May 2017.)  View Details
  3. Apple: Privacy vs. Safety?

    Henry McGee, Nien-hê Hsieh and Sarah McAra

    In 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook debuted the iPhone 6S with enhanced security measures that enflamed a debate on privacy and public safety around the world. The iPhone 6S, amid a heightened concern for privacy following the 2013 revelation of clandestine U.S. surveillance programs, employed a default encryption system that prevented both Apple and government authorities from accessing data stored on the device. Law enforcement officials warned that the encryption hindered investigations for criminal cases and international terrorism and called on Apple to build a backdoor, a way to bypass the encryption. But Cook maintained that any backdoor would compromise customers' privacy and security. In 2016, a federal judge ordered Apple to provide technical assistance to unlock the iPhone used by one of the two terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. Apple refused to comply with the order and asked the government to withdraw its demand. As the court case unfolded, Cook considered his responsibilities to the U.S. government as well as to Apple's customers, employees, and shareholders.

    Keywords: iphone; encryption; data privacy; Safety; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Mobile Technology; Civil Society or Community; National Security; Leadership; Technology Industry; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


    McGee, Henry, Nien-hê Hsieh, and Sarah McAra. "Apple: Privacy vs. Safety?" Harvard Business School Case 316-069, March 2016. (Revised December 2016.)  View Details
  4. Comcast Corporation

    Sunil Gupta, Henry McGee and Felix Oberholzer-Gee

    In March 2015, Richard Plepler, the CEO of Home Box Office (HBO) announced the company's new 'over the top,' or OTT service, HBO Now, that consumers could stream online for a monthly fee of $14.99 without paying for a cable subscription. Soon, CBS followed and announced its own OTT version for $5.99 a month. Why were HBO and CBS doing this? Was this the beginning of the unbundling of TV? And how should Comcast respond to these changes?

    Keywords: television industry; television; Marketing; Television Entertainment; Telecommunications Industry;


    Gupta, Sunil, Henry McGee, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee. "Comcast Corporation." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 516-048, October 2015. (Revised February 2016.)  View Details
  5. Wanda Studios Qingdao

    Henry McGee and Willy Shih

    Wang Jianlin, founder and Chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group (Wanda), kept close tabs on one of his flagship projects going up on the shores of the Yellow Sea. There construction was underway on Wanda Studios Qingdao, the largest film and production facility in the world. The studio was a key initiative of Wang, a central player in the country's rapidly growing movie business. Wanda was already the largest theatrical exhibitor in the world, but the studio represented an enormous bet on a less familiar part of the value network of the film industry. Its vertically integrated approach was also quite different from the Hollywood of today, which has evolved to a much more specialized division of labor.

    Keywords: Dalian Wanda Group; AMC Entertainment; Wang Jianlin; entertainment; movie industry; Vertical Integration; vertical specialization; film; Film Entertainment; Theater Entertainment; Entertainment; Vertical Integration; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; China; United States;


    McGee, Henry, and Willy Shih. "Wanda Studios Qingdao." Harvard Business School Case 616-005, September 2015. (Revised December 2016.)  View Details
  6. Shonda Rhimes' ShondaLand

    Anita Elberse and Henry McGee

    In January 2015, superstar television creator Shonda Rhimes, whose production company ShondaLand dominates American television's most competitive and lucrative night with three shows in primetime on network ABC's Thursday night, is plotting the future. One challenge she faces is to, as she put it, "solve the problem of writing and producing serialized dramas for broadcast network television." What changes could she propose to ABC to make the creative process more manageable? A second challenge is to figure out how to further expand ShondaLand. How could Rhimes best build her portfolio and further cement ShondaLand's place in television history?

    Keywords: marketing; entertainment; media; television; broadcasting; Creative Industries; television industry; product portfolio management; superstar; talent management; Creativity; Personal Development and Career; Television Entertainment; Media and Broadcasting Industry; United States;


    Elberse, Anita, and Henry McGee. "Shonda Rhimes' ShondaLand." Harvard Business School Case 516-026, August 2015. (Revised April 2016.)  View Details