The 40 Most Important People in Streaming 2022 – Media Play News

The 40 Most Important People in Streaming 2022 – Media Play News

Media Play News
Bringing Entertainment Home
, and
November 21, 2022
In the span of just 15 years, streaming has become the dominant way to watch entertainment in the home or on the go.
Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), in which consumers, for a monthly fee, get to watch as many movies, series or shows offered by a specific service as they like, now accounts for 80% of all home entertainment spending, dwarfing DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and à la carte digital rentals and purchases.
And yet despite this success, the increasingly competitive streaming business continues to evolve. SVOD has spawned two variants: ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported television (FAST).
AVOD has two different business models. In the traditional model, viewers can watch movies, TV shows and other programs, on demand, for free, with streaming services making their money from other revenue sources, mostly the sale of advertising. The other model, pioneered more than a decade ago by Hulu, has SVOD services offering subscribers a lower monthly fee in return for watching commercials. FAST offers linear channels supported by ads, just over the internet instead of through cable or broadcast.
Coming up with a list of the 40 most important people in streaming is no easy task. Defining “important” is subjective, and our approach was to not limit ourselves to revenue and subscriber counts lest we come up with a list made up entirely of Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ executives. We also factored in a variety of other attributes, including the candidate’s role in the development and growth of the streaming business, innovation and creativity, and reaching underserved audiences. Nominations were open to the public, with the final 40 chosen by a blue-ribbon committee assembled by Media Play News’ editorial team.
Here, then, are the 40 most important people in streaming.
Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!
Co-CEOs, Netflix
They’re the ones who started it all. Hastings, with then-partner Marc Randolph, launched Netflix in 1997 as a DVD-by-mail rental service. A decade later, he and top lieutenant Ted Sarandos, a former video rental dealer, moved into streaming and applied the same all-you-can-watch monthly subscription model they had used to dominate the disc-rental market. Hastings at the time told Forbes Netflix was focused “on convenience and simplicity.” The rest, as they say, is history: Using Hollywood movies as bait, Netflix built a huge subscriber base, initially in the United States, and then went global with a growing slate of original, and often localized, content. As of last month, Netflix had more than 223 million subscribers worldwide. The service is spending upwards of $17 billion on original content. “Big shows that folks engage with and talk about drives a lot of [subscriber] growth,” Sarandos said last month on Netflix’s earnings call. This month, the streamer launched a cheaper ad-supported tier that some analysts believe could boost total revenue by as much as 11%. —TKA
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Officer, Netflix
“Innovate or Die.” The slogan is practically tattooed to Peters’ forehead. The 14-year Netflix veteran has a lot on his plate, keeping the streamer at the forefront of user-friendly technology. Peters leads the product team, which designs, builds and optimizes the Netflix experience, which includes most recently making sure subscribers pay — via well-timed price hikes, a pending paid sharing option and the lower-cost subscription tier that launched Nov. 3. “We think that this lower subscription price will bring in a lot more members,” Peters said on Netflix’s most recent earnings call. “We see that to be a pretty sticky choice.” Fluent in five languages, Peters previously helped launch Netflix Japan in 2015 and served as international development officer, responsible for the global partnerships with consumer electronics companies, internet service providers and multi-channel video programming distributors that enable Netflix to operate across a range of devices and platforms. —EG
VP, Head of Prime Video U.S.
Like watching NFL’s “Thursday Night Football”? Cheng helped secure the 11-year, $11 billion exclusive rights to the weekly game. Cheng leads Prime Video’s U.S. and global programming strategy, in addition to overseeing brand, social, influencer marketing, and media and audience insights. He is also responsible for customer acquisition, retention and engagement across SVOD, AVOD and other markets. Cheng, who joined Prime Video parent Amazon in 2015, previously served as COO at Amazon Studios, where he oversaw general management alongside Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. Cheng previously spent 15 years as an executive at The Walt Disney Co., most recently as EVP of digital media and chief product officer for the Disney/ABC Television Group. During that time, Cheng and his team won four Primetime Emmy Awards, and were the first in history to put TV episodes on iTunes in 2005, stream top broadcast shows online in 2006, stream in HD in 2007, launch an iPad app in 2010, and offer live broadcast network feeds in 2013. —EG
SVP, Prime Video, MGM and Amazon Studios
Hopkins scored a major Hollywood coup last year following the completion of Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios. That mega transaction included more than 4,000 titles and showcase movie franchises such as “James Bond” and “Rocky,” among others. Hopkins, who has an extensive background in television and digital media, joined the e-commerce behemoth in February 2020 and reports directly to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Hopkins previously served as chairman of Sony Pictures Television, where he oversaw all television production, distribution and marketing operations globally for the studio, as well as Sony Pictures Entertainment’s media networks business. A key accomplishment while he was CEO of Hulu from 2013 to 2017 was the creation of Hulu + Live TV, the online TV platform that now leads the virtual pay-TV market with 4 million subscribers. Hopkins pushed for the move based in part on his background as a former Fox executive in charge of television distribution, including a desire to meld the subscription business with advertising. —EG
Head, Amazon Freevee (formerly IMDb TV)
Pirozzi helped spearhead two international launches of Freevee in the U.K. and Germany, its first Emmy win, and the app’s expansion across household televisions and mobile devices. Formerly co-head of content and programming for Freevee since 2020, Pirozzi became head of the former IMDb TV platform this past August — spearheading the business side, including overseeing marketing, product functions, and boosting revenue. In his previous role, Pirozzi oversaw a 70% increase of original content on the platform, including the series “Bosch: Legacy,” “Uninterrupted’s Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers” and “Bug Out,” among others. He also secured exclusive streaming-window film deals with major studios such as Disney and NBCUniversal. Prior to joining Freevee, Pirozzi was head of worldwide television and film licensing for Prime Video. Before joining Amazon in 2011, Pirozzi spent seven years at Best Buy, where he led several store categories, including physical and digital video. —EG
President, Direct to Consumer, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
Paull is no stranger to digital distribution. The longtime executive oversees Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Star+ globally. Paull and his team are responsible for marketing, product, technology, data science and business operations for the streaming services, along with programming and content curation, working closely and collaboratively with the content engines fueling Disney’s direct-to-consumer ecosystem. Paull joined Disney in 2017 with the acquisition of Bamtech Media, a 2015 spinoff from MLB Advanced Media. Paull and his team played a key role in Disney’s pivot to the direct-to-consumer ecosystem, launching ESPN+ in 2018, Disney+ in 2019, and general entertainment platform Star+ in Latin America in August 2021. Before joining Bamtech, Paull spent five years at Amazon, where he ran Amazon Channels worldwide and was responsible for its global content, product, technology, operations and marketing. He also oversaw Prime Video and Amazon’s transactional VOD business in the United States, as well as the development of Prime Music. Before joining Amazon, Paull led Sony Music’s digital business worldwide and held other senior leadership positions with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment Group and Time Warner. —EG
President, Hulu
Earley joined Hulu from Disney+ less than a year ago, replacing Kelly Campbell, who departed to lead NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform. Earley manages Hulu and the Hulu + Live TV streaming businesses, helping the two units contribute significantly to the Disney Streaming portfolio, which surpassed 221 million subscriptions through June 30. The executive’s expertise greatly contributed to Hulu’s record-breaking year for content, including 58 Emmy nominations, the No. 1 streaming premiere on Hulu to date (20th Century Studios’ Prey) and Hulu’s most-watched series premiere (“The Kardashians”). Earley also helped lead the acquisition of U.S. streaming rights to the award-winning comedy “Schitt’s Creek.” Before joining Hulu, Earley served as EVP of marketing and operations for Disney+, and was responsible for global brand, acquisition, and engagement marketing, programming, and content curation for both Disney+ and Star. In this role, Earley and his teams led the marketing campaign efforts behind the launch and continued global rollout of Disney+ and Star, while collaborating closely on content marketing with teams across the company, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. —EG
President, Disney+, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
Bowen had led global business operations for Disney’s streaming platforms, including Disney+, since the streaming platform’s launch in November 2019. She works closely with key leaders across Disney to drive a continued focus on innovation, including the Dec. 8 launch of the advertising-supported subscription tier, as well as multi-channel promotional support for Disney+ and its content slate. Regional leaders for Disney+ in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America report to Bowen. She is a seasoned media executive with decades of experience in product, technical, and operational leadership roles in several global media organizations. Before becoming president of Disney+ at the end of September, she served as EVP of global business operations for Disney Streaming, overseeing global content and business operations for the company’s direct-to-consumer video streaming businesses, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Star+. Bowen joined Disney in 2017 as SVP of digital media and CTO of the company’s international operations, a role in which she led a transformation of Disney’s channel broadcast technology, content operations and digital publishing across EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Prior to joining Disney, Bowen was CTO of News Corp. Australia. —EG
Chief Content Licensing Officer, Paramount Global
Cohen leads the company’s global content licensing and distribution operations. He is responsible for monetizing a large and growing portfolio of original content that airs or streams on the CBS Television Network, The CW, Paramount+ and Showtime, as well as programming from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Television Studios, CBS Studios, CBS News, CBS Media Ventures, the MTV Entertainment Studios, Nickelodeon, VIS, Miramax and third-party partners. He also runs worldwide home entertainment for the company, overseeing the distribution of the industry’s largest library of film and television titles. Cohen joined Paramount in 2017 as president of worldwide television licensing. Before that, he enjoyed a 20-year run at Disney/ABC, where he most recently served as EVP of pay-television and digital sales for home entertainment and television distribution for Walt Disney Studios. In this role, he distributed catalog and properties such as Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ABC and Disney Channel to businesses around the globe. Cohen was also responsible for securing two of the most significant pay-television deals in history — Netflix in 2012 and Starz in 1999 — negotiating exclusive multiyear deals and licensing agreements. —TKA
President and CEO, Streaming, Paramount Global
Ryan helped launch the ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV in 2014, which Viacom (now Paramount Global) acquired for $340 million in 2019. Since then, Ryan has been fast-tracking both Paramount+ and Pluto’s global rollout, including the former operating in more than 45 countries by the end of the year, and in India in 2023. Paramount+ is set to launch in France on Dec. 1, and in Austria, Germany and Switzerland on Dec. 8. Paramount’s Showtime brand is also continuing its Euro reach in a partnership with Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky, doing business as SkyShowtime. In October Ryan was awarded the National Association of Television Program Executives’ (NATPE) inaugural “Award for Executive Leadership in Global Streaming.” “We’re the only player that’s really focused on the combination of both a free- and pay-streaming strategy, and we think that is very powerful,” Ryan said in a media interview. —EG
CEO and President, Global Streaming and Games, Warner Bros. Discovery
Perrette is responsible for the recently combined company’s streaming businesses around the world, including management of HBO Max and Discovery+. Perrette will also lead the rollout of an enhanced streaming platform that brings together the HBO Max and Discovery+ content catalogs, which is planned for 2023. Additionally, he oversees Warner Bros. Discovery’s gaming and interactive business, which includes Warner Bros. Games’ publishing and game development operations across all platforms. Perrette most recently served as president and CEO of Discovery Streaming and International. He oversaw and set the strategy for all of Discovery’s businesses outside the United States, including the second-largest broadcast group in Europe and top pay-TV portfolios in Latin America and Asia. Perrette was also responsible for the launch of Discovery+ in 2021. Perrette joined Discovery in 2011 as chief digital officer. Prior to that he spent 11 years with NBCUniversal, ultimately serving as president of digital and affiliate distribution. During that time he played a leadership role in creating and developing Hulu, including serving on its board for several years. —TKA
SVP, Global Product & Design, Warner Bros. Discovery
Chief Technology Officer, Global Digital, Warner Bros. Discovery
Whitworth and Saxena are leading global product and engineering teams to create Warner Bros. Discovery’s enhanced direct-to-consumer streaming platform that will combine the content catalogs from HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single SVOD service. Whitworth is planning the rollout and designing a product that will serve as the streaming home of HBO Max tentpoles such as “House of the Dragon” as well as an expansive catalog of Discovery content across genres such as true crime, home improvement and food. Saxena leads engineering efforts to build a strong and secure tech platform that will host the combined service. Whitworth has more than 20 years of leadership experience that includes a seven-year stint at Amazon, where he led product, design, engineering, science, and analytics teams to build products and services for Amazon’s customers and selling partners worldwide. Saxena also has more than 20 years of experience, more than half of that at Amazon, where he most recently served as VP of technology for Amazon Marketplace. —TKA
President, Worldwide TV and Digital Distribution, Lionsgate
Why did Packer just re-up his employment contract at the same time that Lionsgate finds itself at a strategic crossroads contemplating the spin-off of its Starz streaming business and/or studio operations, including theatrical and TV production? Because Packer is a key executive in both businesses, supervising Lionsgate’s global distribution with licensing deals among various platforms such as for the “John Wick”-based original series “The Continental” on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform; the CBS series “Ghosts” that also plays on Paramount+; and the award-winning comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” on Hulu. Under Packer’s leadership, Lionsgate has expanded the studio’s Pay 1 movie distribution deal with Starz, in addition to separate Pay 2 deals with Roku and Peacock. A movie’s first pay window typically occurs following its theatrical and home entertainment releases. During Packer’s tenure, Lionsgate’s 17,000-title film and television library has nearly doubled its revenue to almost $800 million. The television distribution group annually licenses 40 to 50 feature films, a slate of TV shows, and Starz original programming, in addition to a library catalog across broadcast, cable, SVOD, AVOD and FAST platforms. —EG
Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, NBCUniversal
Strauss is responsible for all aspects of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, as well as the company’s Fandango and International Networks business units. He was promoted into his present position in August 2020, a year after he joined NBCUniversal to lead Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. Prior to that, he was EVP of Xfinity Services for Comcast Cable, where he led the strategy and development of products and services that served more than 30 million customers across Comcast’s residential lines of business — including Xfinity TV, one of the nation’s largest pay-TV distributors of video and entertainment services; Xfinity Internet, the nation’s largest gig provider; Xfinity Home; and Xfinity Voice. Prior to joining the senior management team at Comcast in 2004, Strauss was EVP and GM of Rainbow Media’s on-demand service Mag Rack, where he pioneered the video-on-demand model with one of the first national on-demand networks. Earlier, he held several management positions with Disney-ABC, including serving in the strategic planning department for the ABC Television Network. —TKA
President, Peacock and Direct-to-Consumer, NBCUniversal
Since taking the helm of NBCUniversal’s streaming service a little more than a year ago, Campbell has engineered a strategic shift toward growing the hybrid SVOD/AVOD provider’s paying customers. Peacock has 27 million active monthly accounts, but only 15 million are paid subscriptions. Her focus is on next-day streams of NBC and Bravo shows, which in late September became available on Peacock rather than Hulu, their previous streaming home. Among them are such popular series as “Saturday Night Live,” “The Voice” and the “Law & Order” franchise. Prior to joining Peacock, Campbell, too, was at Hulu, spending four years there as chief marketing officer and then president. Before that, she spent more than a decade at Google, where she held a variety of leadership and marketing roles across the Google Ads and Google Cloud businesses. She began her career in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase. Campbell has received numerous honors, including spots on Media Play News’ Women in Home Entertainment, Business Insider’s Most Innovative CMOs, and AdAge’s Women to Watch lists. —TKA
Chairman, Worldwide Networks and Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Le Goy oversees the physical and digital distribution of Sony Pictures’ film, television and other content to all media and retail platforms, as well as Sony Pictures Television’s networks around the world. And while Sony Pictures is the only major studio without its own general entertainment streaming service, though it has two targeted streamers, Crunchyroll and Pure Flix, Le Goy’s deal-making prowess has helped lead the company to its highest profits in its history. Distribution deals during Le Goy’s watch include a licensing agreement with Netflix for “Seinfeld”; the sale of “Seinfeld” cable rights to Viacom; various lucrative content deals with Netflix and Disney; and integrating the Funimation and Crunchyroll brands under the Crunchyroll banner. Prior to assuming his present position in 2018, Le Goy spent 10 years as president of distribution for Sony Pictures Television (SPT). He joined SPT in 1999 as SVP of European distribution and later took charge of distribution in Latin America. “Sony’s unique position as an independent, content-driven studio allows us to focus on maximizing the value of everything we distribute,” Le Goy says. —TKA
CEO, FilmRise
Fisher heads the largest third-party provider of content in the AVOD/FAST space. An early advocate of the ad-supported model long before most in the industry took it seriously, Fisher helped fuel the growth of AVOD and, more recently, the proliferation of FAST channels. A veteran film and television producer, financier and distributor, Fisher co-founded FilmRise in 2012 and developed a proprietary data analytics methodology that measures viewer demand for content. This development led to a decade of soaring and strategic growth, with tens of thousands of FilmRise titles now streaming all over the world. FilmRise releases content to Amazon’s Prime Video, The Roku Channel, Peacock, Pluto TV, Freevee, Crackle, Tubi and many more, with more than 40,000 hours of content in its library. Fisher also created the FilmRise streaming network, the largest independently owned AVOD service in the United States. Prior to launching FilmRise, Fisher for nearly 30 years ran the City Lights Media Group, a film and television production and distribution company with one of New York’s largest post-production facilities. —TKA
Chief Content Officer, Tubi
These are heady times for Lewinson and Tubi. Fox Entertainment’s AVOD/FAST platform just ended the most-recent fiscal quarter with a record 1.3 billion hours viewed, with ad-revenue topping the advertising revenue generated by Fox Entertainment’s linear-TV platforms for the first time. Lewinson oversees content strategy, acquisitions and original content development and production for Tubi, including deals with more than 500 content partners. He has launched more than 60 Tubi Originals to date, including “The Freak Brothers” with Pete Davidson, “Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial” and the recent remake of “Terror Train,” with more than 100 originals in development and production this year. Previously he was SVP of programming/marketing at Sony Pictures Television and the AVOD platform Crackle (now owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment). He was instrumental in the launch of Crackle’s original series and movies. Lewinson was also the programming executive on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (2016 Primetime Emmy nominee), including the most-viewed episode with President Barack Obama. Previously, Lewinson spent more than a decade at FX Networks, spearheading the launch of FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel). —EG
President of Streaming Services, AMC Networks
Penella is no stranger to the SVOD frontlines. For years, he successfully led British-themed streamer Acorn TV against industry behemoth Netflix and market competitor BritBox. As president of streaming services at AMC Networks, Penella is also responsible for Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK, as well as AMC+. He oversees WE tv, AMC Networks’ unscripted lifestyle network; IFC Films, a highly regarded distributor of independent film; and AMC Networks International, the company’s global division. Prior to joining AMC Networks, Penella was CEO of RLJ Entertainment when it was acquired by AMC Networks in 2018. He previously served as chief operating officer and was a board member. From 2007 to October 2012, Penella was CEO of Acorn Media Group (which was acquired by RLJE in October 2012), where he oversaw operations and was the driving force behind the worldwide expansion of the Acorn brand, including the acquisition of a majority of Agatha Christie Limited and the launch of Acorn TV, the company’s first proprietary subscription SVOD channel. From 2004 to 2007 Penella was president of Acorn’s direct-to-consumer operations offering DVDs through mail-order catalogs and e-commerce. —EG
Chief Strategy Officer, Cinedigm
Opeka is a busy guy. The executive has been operating on overdrive, spearheading Cinedigm’s transition from home entertainment content distributor to facilitator of branded SVOD, AVOD and FAST streaming platforms across myriad genres and special interests. The company just hit a theatrical home run with the slasher film Terrifier 2, which is now streaming on Cinedigm’s ScreamBox SVOD/AVOD platform. The concurrent theatrical/SVOD strategy underscores Opeka’s desire to pull as many distribution levers as possible to maximize content incremental revenue opportunities. Prior to assuming his present position in January 2021, Opeka was president of digital networks. In that role, he helmed Cinedigm’s planning, development, launch, and operations of a growing roster of digital-first channels, which include the factual network Docurama; fandom lifestyle network CONtv; gaming and eSports network WHAM; the family friendly Dove Channel and Dove Kids; combat sports network Combat Go; Asian pop culture network HallyPop; soccer-themed Real Madrid TV; the Chinese entertainment channel Bambu; and Cineverse, a platform showcasing proprietary and third-party streaming channels. —EG
Chairman and CEO, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment
A more than 30-year veteran of the media business, Rouhana heads the biggest AVOD network not owned by a major media or technology conglomerate. Since buying Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2008, he has built what at the time was a book publishing company into a publicly traded operator of video-on-demand streaming services that include Crackle, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Popcornflix and, most recently, Redbox, an August 2022 acquisition that brought the company more than 145 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels, the Redbox AVOD app, as well as a TVOD service and legacy disc-rental kiosks. Rouhana chuckles at the hurried entry into AVOD of the major streamers, particularly Netflix. “The subscription video guys … made the mistake of thinking that somehow or another they were going to get their money back [that they spent] on buying content just from subscriptions, and it’s proved to be completely false,” he told Media Play News last August. “So now they’re all coming to AVOD because they need more money.” —TKA
Executive Vice Chairman, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, and former CEO, Redbox
President, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment
Smith and Katz are Bill Rouhana’s top lieutenants at one of the leading AVOD services — and one with ambitious and strategic growth plans. As CEO of Redbox from 2016 until the company’s sale to Chicken Soup earlier this year, Smith led the DVD rental kiosk company through a digital transformation that saw it shift focus to digital distribution and all its incarnations — AVOD, TVOD and FAST. At Chicken Soup, he now oversees all long-term planning for the company, including strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate services. Katz runs day-to-day operations, including the company’s streaming, kiosk, distribution and studio businesses. He’s a digital distribution veteran who launched Bounce TV on the secondary digital channels of TV stations around the country, rebooted Court TV, and in 2017 sold Katz Networks, his digital over-the-air startup, to E.W. Scripps for more than $300 million. He subsequently spent two years as COO and head of entertainment for Scripps’ National Networks unit. Chicken Soup expects to finish 2022 with a run rate exceeding $500 million of revenue and $100 million to $150 million of adjusted EBITDA. —TKA
President, Domestic Networks, Starz
Hoffman oversees key domestic network operations for Starz, the global media streaming platform owned by Lionsgate. Hoffman was one of the executives responsible for launching the Starz app and managing the network’s direct-to-consumer business. She has worked closely with partners including Amazon, Hulu and Apple to successfully launch Starz on new platforms while continuing to build the Starz brand. She played a vital role in the launch of Starz Originals slate, which includes such hits as the “Power” franchise, “Outlander,” “P-Valley” and “Gaslit” among many others. “At Starz, we remain focused on premium programming and cater to audiences who have been traditionally underserved in the landscape, particularly women and viewers from underrepresented communities,” she told Media Play News in October. “We drop our series week-to-week instead of binging them so that there can be a communal experience and a cultural conversation that plays out over a sustained period of time. And we don’t look to the same people to run our shows that have gotten all the opportunities in the past.” —TKA
President, PBS Distribution
Downing has led PBS Distribution into the streaming era. Over the past six years, she and her team have launched six digital subscription channels on Amazon Prime Video Channels — PBS Masterpiece (U.S. and Canada), PBS Kids, PBS Living, PBS Documentaries and PBS America (U.K.) — and, most recently, unveiled eight FAST channels and struck AVOD deals with several major streaming platforms. When PBS Distribution launched in 2009 as a joint venture between PBS and GBH, 90% of revenue came from DVD. Today, Downing says, more than 90% of revenue comes from streaming. Even before streaming’s big bump during the pandemic, Downing was partial to multi-platform releases with big PBS titles, including Ken Burns documentaries, available the same day on disc, through digital retailers and on streaming channels. “Reaching viewers across multiple platforms is critical to our public service mission,” she says. Downing is also actively involved in DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, speaking at seminars and webinars, mentoring women in the industry, and serving on the steering committee for the D2C Alliance. —TKA
VP of Home Entertainment, Fandango, and Lead Executive for Vudu
Douglas is best known in the home entertainment industry for his stewardship of Vudu, one of the leading digital retailers in the TVOD arena. But he also oversees Vudu’s fast-growing AVOD service, which offers thousands of movies and TV shows viewers can watch on demand, for free. Douglas began his career holding various analytics and marketing roles at Disney, Fox, DreamWorks and Paramount. He moved into the digital entertainment space in 2013 as SVP of content for M-GO, the DreamWorks Animation/Technicolor joint venture, prior to its acquisition by Fandango and rebranding as FandangoNow in 2016. He oversaw multiple years of double-digit growth in this era, beating the market with a focus on content and core consumer experience. In 2018, Douglas was elected chairman of OTT.X, the trade group for the streaming industry. With the acquisition of Vudu in 2020, Fandango firmly established itself as the No. 3 player in the competitive transactional space as well as a growing contender in the AVOD arena, which the service entered six years ago. —TKA
Heads of Worldwide Video, Apple
Erlicht and Van Amburg have joint custody over Apple TV+, which in the three years since it launched in November 2019 has grown from an also-ran into a viable contender in the high-stakes SVOD competition. After 12 years as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, the pair moved to Apple in 2017 to prepare for the launch of Apple TV+. After a slow start, Apple TV+ gained steam with originals and in 2021 became the first streamer to win the Best Picture Academy Award with CODA, a Sundance Film Festival hit that Apple acquired for a record $25 million. Apple TV+ snapped up that prize in only its second year in the film business, besting veteran streamers such as Netflix and Amazon. Erlicht and Van Amburg also set up deals with A24, Skydance and Imagine, among others. This year, Apple earned a record 52 Emmy nominations across 13 titles. The streamer ended up winning nine Emmy Awards, including four for “Ted Lasso,” a back-to-back winner for Best Comedy Series. —SP
EVP and GM, BET+
Griffin heads the leading SVOD service focused on the African-American audience. BET+ has more than 2,000 hours of premium content, including exclusive new original programming and fan-favorite series, movies and specials from BET Networks, world-renowned creator Tyler Perry, and a host of leading African-American content creators. Griffin, who reports to BET Networks president Scott Mills, manages the BET+ profit and loss, and oversees business strategy and operations, including original programming, content acquisitions, marketing, distribution, planning and analysis. Prior to joining BET+ in 2019, Griffin was a producer and EVP at Story Lab US, where he co-founded and led the company’s foray into premium long-form content development. In less than a year he developed original series with Anonymous Content, ITV, Stephen David Entertainment and the NBA Players Association. Previously, he held various senior content roles at Netflix. He formed and led the company’s unscripted group, commissioning and/or executive producing more than 40 series, including the Emmy Award-winning “Queer Eye” and the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance. He also worked extensively on scripted drama, comedy, sci-fi and anime. Earlier in his career Griffin served as head of business development at Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels’ production company. —TKA
Founder and CEO, Roku
Wood joined Netflix in 2007 during its DVD-by-mail rental heyday as VP of internet TV. He helped guide the company’s pioneering streaming VOD aspirations with the launch of a branded Netflix streaming video player that would evolve into the Roku set-top box. Netflix was an early investor before selling its stake. In addition to selling streaming devices and HDMI sticks, Roku now markets a line of Chinese-made smart televisions, in addition to a branded operating system for third-party consumer electronics. The San Jose, Calif.-based company also operates an ad-supported VOD platform, The Roku Channel, which boasts more than 60 million platform subscribers. Roku is now upping investment in original content after it acquired programming from the short-lived Quibi streaming platform in 2021. “It doesn’t take nearly as much to convince someone to watch a free movie or TV show,” Wood said in a media interview. “So, for us … it just makes more sense to [create content] ourselves. We are looking for shows that work well with the AVOD business model.” —EG
EVP, Global Content Sales and Business Development, A+E Networks
Garner is focused on how best to monetize A+E Networks’ vast library of owned and original content through partnerships with traditional and emerging content distribution platforms. Under the leadership of Stephen MacDonald, president of global content licensing and international, he has led the charge to position A+E Networks as an essential partner for streamers. He has guided the company’s early adoption of FAST while continuing to grow and monetize A&E’s footprint across AVOD and SVOD platforms. Garner and his team have also tapped into new revenue sources by expanding into podcasting and new business initiatives that optimize A+E Networks’ creative IP. “The ways in which our content is being consumed is essentially TV 3.0,” Garner says. “These are the newest iterations of storytelling delivery.” Prior to joining A+E Networks in 2007, Garner worked as an executive at several start-up ventures, including a satellite broadcast network based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he successfully built the network’s distribution to 22 sub-Saharan countries.  —TKA
Group VP, Vizio
Pond could be excused for wearing running shoes to the office. She has been a blur of activity in 2022, spearheading the consumer electronics manufacturer’s foray into ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST). Pond leads the teams responsible for digital distribution, content acquisition and programming, platform partnerships, content and partner marketing, and enterprise programs. Notable accomplishments this year include distribution deals with Scripps Company Channels, Starz, TikTok, A&E, Sling TV, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Amazon Music, and Disney, Sony and Warner on-demand movies. Since joining Vizio in 2012, Pond has initiated, negotiated and completed deals across content distribution and acquisition, IP technology, advertising and data verticals. She has a history of building, growing and monetizing new lines of business, including Vizio’s owned-and-operated service WatchFree+. Other content distribution deals include Apple, Google and Netflix, among others. “The content addition marks another significant advancement in our commitment to provide our users with access to the programming they love and endless entertainment options for millions of users who begin their entertainment journey with Vizio,” Pond says. —EG
SVP, Content Programming and Partnerships, Xumo
Van Engen develops, leads and executes the content programming and acquisition strategy for Xumo, Comcast and Charter’s streaming platform joint venture. His oversight includes Xumo’s FAST service, content store and app partners. Since joining the company in 2016, he has launched VOD and FAST channels for providers such as the PGA Tour, History Channel Shorts, Hallmark Movies & More, and Fox TV’s Divorce Court — all industry-first FAST channels. Xumo now has more than 250 channels and more than 12,000 on-demand choices. Xumo’s growth, Van Engen says, “has been fueled by our unique dual-pronged approach. One part of our business serves content in a direct-to-consumer application, while the second part of our business provides a complete advertising and content offering for our enterprise customers. Under the newly formed joint venture between Charter and Comcast, the brand now represents an entire streaming ecosystem inclusive of content, devices and an underlying operating system.” Prior to joining Xumo, Van Engen was SVP of programming and production for the digital startup Bedrocket Media Ventures and, before that, co-executive producer of “The Gayle King Show” for O.W.N. —TKA
SVP, Global Commerce, Crunchyroll
Berger oversees all consumer products, merchandise, content sales and theatrical businesses for Crunchyroll, the biggest anime streaming service in the world. Crunchyroll serves millions of fans in more than 200 countries and territories, and boasts an anime library with 44,000 episodes of series and films, with new series added daily. Berger is credited with managing the distribution of 10 of the top 20 highest-grossing anime releases of all time in North America, including Demon Slayer: Mugen Train in 2021, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in 2022, and Jujutsu Kaisen, also in 2022. Berger was responsible for instituting the “next-day” digital-sellthrough strategy, bringing both subtitled and dubbed episodes of new anime shows to major digital retailers within 48 hours of their premiere on Funimation. Berger has also helped establish the Funimation Shop e-commerce business as the premier hub for Funimation merchandise, home entertainment and collectibles. Prior to joining Crunchyroll and Funimation, Berger spent 21 years with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, most recently as SVP of sales, category management and customer marketing for North America. —TKA
EVP and Managing Director, Digital News and Streaming, BBC Studios
Baird is known as a digital media trailblazer. Throughout her career she has driven growth and innovation for some of the industry’s most-successful digital brands. At BBC Studios, Baird is leading the development of the company’s vision and investment plans to continue driving growth and audiences for the BBC’s digital news products around the globe. This includes BBC Studios’ direct-to-consumer documentary service, BBC Select, and BBC Podcasts. Before joining BBC Studios in February 2022, Baird served as SVP and global head of product at News Corp. There, she was responsible for developing digital solutions for Dow Jones, News UK, News Corp Australia, the New York Post, Storyful,, Foxtel and HarperCollins Publishers. Prior to that she held various roles at a number of large-scale digital businesses, including AOL, iVillage and Entertainment Weekly. Earlier in her career, she was instrumental in bringing the pioneering and award-winning website to market in the mid-1990s. She also co-founded the cult baby name website, exiting with a sale to CafeMedia. —TKA
Global Marketing Lead, Verizon Business Group’s Sports, Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice
Walter is known for his vision of how technology can evolve the industry from a physical infrastructure to a workflow that lives in the cloud. At Verizon, he works on go-to-market strategies and tactics for a broad base of virtualized and cloud-based content contribution-distribution workflow solutions. An experienced executive in the global entertainment industry, Walter has specific expertise in strategic planning, bringing new services to market, monetizing IP, and developing innovative partnerships with businesses at the intersection of media and technology. He has longstanding relationships with C-level executives at the largest global media companies, agencies and vendors in the tech ecosystem. Over the course of a 28-year career in the industry, Walter has maintained a successful track record in creating new media product launches and executing corporate strategic plans and solutions. “Delivering live video over 5G networks is no longer just a theory,” he says. “5G deployment is real and has the power to transform the way content is produced, distributed and consumed.” —TKA
Chief Content Officer, Xperi Corp.
His hobby might be fly-fishing, but professionally Neighbors is out to hook consumers up with the best-possible entertainment experience. At Xperi, Neighbors has global oversight of the functional group responsible for acquiring access to, and enabling the distribution of, entertainment content to cinemas, homes and individuals through a wide array of Xperi-enabled devices and technologies. Since merging with TiVo in June 2020, Xperi has become one of the largest licensing companies in the world. Other Xperi brands and partnerships include DTS, the audio and imaging technologies company; Imax Enhanced, which offers an immersive viewing experience by bringing together best-in-class certified devices, remastered content and elevated streaming second only to a theater; and TiVo, whose recent launch of the TiVo Media Platform is set to bring a rich content-first experience to millions of consumers around the world. Neighbors has worked in the entertainment technology industry for more than 30 years spanning the music, TV and motion picture sectors, including his role as a foundational leader at DTS in 1993. —TKA
Director of Strategy and Business Development for Media and Entertainment, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Blandy is streaming’s behind-the-scenes tech wizard. He leads strategy and business development for the Media and Entertainment business unit, working with customers and partners to drive innovation across a number of M&E solution areas, including content production and direct-to-consumer. Blandy has a keen understanding of the inner workings of production, distribution and monetization of content. While he is known for his impressive grasp of networking technologies used in broadband video, he is equally recognized for his enthusiasm and reliability as a valued partner in moving the industry to a cloud-based solution. Blandy joined AWS in 2021 after 21 years at Fox Networks and Disney. Most recently he was EVP of technology solutions at Fox Networks Engineering and Operations, where he oversaw systems design, implementation, program management, capital planning and sustaining engineering for broadcast, cable and digital platforms. He previously worked for several years in Fox’s interactive media division, overseeing video platform initiatives, and served as technical lead for the launch team that laid the foundations for Hulu. —TKA
CEO, Here Media
Colichman heads the world’s leading multimedia company targeting the LGBTQ+ consumer through, among other vehicles, Here TV, the world’s first SVOD LGBTQ+ streaming service, and PlanetOut, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ AVOD service. The two streamers reach millions of viewers each month and have earned five Daytime Emmy Award nominations. Colichman won the 2021 Daytime Emmy Award for the short-form documentary series “Girls’ Voices Now,” a social-justice program that amplifies the voices of young women from underrepresented communities in Los Angeles by teaching them documentary filmmaking. Colichman is a well-regarded motion picture executive with more than 20 years of experience who has produced and/or distributed more than 150 motion pictures and television series episodes, including the Academy Award-winning films Departures, Tom and Viv, and Gods and Monsters. Colichman previously owned the largest LGBTQ+ publishing brands for a decade, including The Advocate, OUT Magazine, and He currently serves on the board of directors of streaming trade association OTT.X. Colichman is also the founder and chair of the OTT.X Social Impact Awards, which recognizes creators, producers, and channels that are using the power of streaming video to make a positive impact. —TKA
Founder and CEO, Canela Media
Rafferty Zavala heads one of the top Hispanic media companies — and the parent of Canela.TV, a free Spanish-language streamer that serves more than 28 million unique users in the United States, Mexico and Latin America. Canela.TV was launched in May 2020 as the first AVOD service built exclusively for Latinos by Latinos. It features series, movies, sports, documentaries, telenovelas and other programming in Spanish. The company’s revenue for 2022 is projected to nearly double from 2021. In September Canela.TV made the jump into original content. Prior to starting Canela Media, she founded Mobvious, a mobile-advertising company aimed at U.S. Hispanics and African-Americans. The company quickly became the largest Hispanic-focused ad network and was acquired by PRISA in 2017. In addition to being a minority woman CEO in an industry dominated by men, Rafferty Zavala is one of the few Latinas to successfully secure VC funding for her company, with tremendous support from women-led funds. Earlier this year, she was named Entrepreneur of the Year New York by E&Y. —TKA
EVP of Strategy and Digital, Shout! Factory
Pao in 2015 launched Shout’s digital streaming business and Shout! Factory TV. Under Pao’s direction, Shout! Factory has been a pioneer in digital streaming since launching its first AVOD and FAST services on adRise (now Tubi) and Pluto TV. Shout! Factory TV has since expanded to AVOD on Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and branded channels on a wide range of platforms; to SVOD on Roku and Amazon Prime Video; and to FAST with eight channels (Shout! Factory TV, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel, Johnny Carson TV, The Carol Burnett Show channel, TokuSHOUTsu, the ALF channel, Scream Factory TV, and Shout! Cult, with more to come). Shout! had two of the first FAST channels with professionally produced content on Pluto TV, and was part of the first set of FAST channels launched on Samsung TV+, IMDb TV, Xumo, Comcast Xfinity, Vizio, STIRR, LocalNow, Redbox and Twitch. Pao’s 20-year career in digital media started in 1997 at Digitas, a digital marketing agency. In 1999 he joined, which pioneered the use of digital video for promoting music, movies and video game titles. —TKA
Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Plex
Olechowski is responsible for product strategy, product management, and business development for Plex’s software and services. A pioneer in streaming media, he co-founded the company as a hobby, with the intent of making organizing and accessing digital media easy and seamless. Today, Plex is available in 180 countries and is considered among the most comprehensive entertainment platforms available, serving as a one-stop destination to discover, assemble a watch list, and stream almost every movie and TV show. Tom’s Guide recently called Plex “the best media server you can get right now,” noting that “not only are Plex apps available on the best streaming devices, but a mastery of Plex will complement the best Netflix shows and the best Hulu movies.” Over the past 25 years Olechowski has applied his entrepreneurial know-how and spirit to a number of software- and internet-focused start-ups. His professional experience includes executive positions in product strategy, business development, marketing, and international sales for a number of established brands such as Cisco, PostX and IronPort. He is an expert in cryptography with six issued encryption and authentication patents. —TKA
Media Play News in the November issue of its monthly magazine will honor the 40 most important people in streaming. Nomination forms may be accessed here or below. Honorees will be chosen by a blue-ribbon committee from a field of…
Streaming trade association OTT.X will hold its final in-person event of the year Dec. 1 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles at which Media Play News’ “The 40 Most Important People in Streaming” will be honored during a…
Movie subscription streaming service Fandor has upped Felice Oper to the chief operating officer position. Oper, who previously served as general counsel and chief distribution officer, will continue as general counsel. As COO, Oper assumes oversight of the programming and…
Media Play News teamed with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group to celebrate the 40 Under 40 with a gala cocktail party at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 23. Nearly 100 guests attended the event, which included…
Your email address will not be published.

17 + six =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Click here to read the latest edition cover to cover


Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus ( )