Deluxe Taps Lena Wasikowski as SVP, Global Account Strategy and Business Development

Lena Wasikowski has been appointed SVP of global account strategy and business development at Deluxe, a global provider of digital and cloud-based solutions to content production studios and distributors.

Wasikowski will report directly to Deluxe chief strategy officer Anna Lee, and will be responsible for implementing growth across global studio partnerships, as well as expanding SVOD platform relationships, cultivating existing client relationships, and strategizing new opportunities in ancillary businesses.

Lena Wasikowski

“Lena has the perfect combination of multimedia knowledge, entertainment-insider expertise, and business acumen that will ensure that Deluxe can maximize on opportunities and continue to evolve through operational innovations and strategic partnerships,” Lee said.

Wasikowski joins Deluxe from WarnerMedia, where she most recently served as VP of global client relations and content distribution. In that capacity, she led the teams responsible for delivering WarnerMedia content to global servicing partners and retailers worldwide. Wasikowski also played a lead role in the creation and establishment of servicing protocols for industry standard specs and next generation technologies while at WarnerMedia.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“I’m excited for this new chapter and honored to be joining such an iconic and innovative company that continues to shape and thrive in the ever-changing media industry,” Wasikowski said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to work with Anna Lee, especially given the new strategic direction she’s taking the company, and I’m looking forward to joining the extraordinary team that steers the company’s development and progression.”

Fitness Video Pioneer Leslie Sansone’s ‘Walk at Home’ Brand Launches Basketball-Inspired Walking Workout on YouTube

In time for March Madness, “Walk at Home,” a leading fitness walking brand, is releasing a new workout starring college basketball legend Taja Wilson that blends steps with hoops.

1 Mile “Sports-Inspired” Workout by Walk at Home and Taja Wilson officially launches at 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, March 19, on the “Walk at Home” YouTube channel, which has more than 3 million subscribers. It’s the brand’s very first sports-inspired workout, with Wilson blending classic Walk at Home moves with her favorite basketball drills.

“We are thrilled to propel the ‘Walk at Home’ mission with incredible, new-generation instructors like Taja,” said Marie Bullano, VP of “Walk at Home.” “We are excited to incorporate more themes into our fitness offerings such as sports-inspired workouts, circuit training, and more. We are looking forward to creating fresh content to serve all walks of life.”

The 15-minute workout can be viewed for free on the “Walk at Home” YouTube channel as well as on the “Walk at Home” app.

Wilson is best known for her college basketball career at Michigan State University and Xavier University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Sports Business Administration and is a contributor to ESPN.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

 At the end of my college basketball journey, I suffered a career-ending injury and, unfortunately, my lifelong dream of pursuing a WNBA career ended,” Wilson said. “But with the end of that season, came the birth of a new dream! I ventured into programming fitness videos because I identified with Walk at Home’s incredible mission and I had a passion for introducing others to the world of fitness in exciting and accessible new ways!”

“Walk at Home” is a leading at-home fitness walking brand. Created by Leslie Sansone, “Walk at Home” is one of the top-selling fitness brands at mass retail, including Walmart, Target, and QVC. Walk at Home’s popular YouTube channel has over 3 million subscribers and is ranked as one of the top fitness channels on YouTube.

Sansone has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Woman’s World, Family Circle, Healthy Living, Vogue India, Glamour Magazine, and other top wellness publications as well as on CNN, “Today,” and “CBS This Morning.”

‘Law & Crime’ Network Arrives on Redbox Free Live TV

Law & Crime, a leading legal and true crime network, is now available on Redbox Free Live TV, Redbox announced in a March 18 news release.

Law & Crime is the only network featuring multiple trials daily plus original programs like “Brian Ross Investigates,” hosted by former ABC Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross; “Trial File”; “Law&Crime Daily”; and “Prime Crime.”

“The Redbox brand has long been synonymous with an engaging entertainment experience,” said Alex Kopacz, head of content distribution and licensing at Law & Crime. “We feel that they are uniquely positioned for ongoing growth in the free ad-supported streaming space and Law & Crime’s inclusion on the service will further enhance a content category that remains highly sought-after.”

Redbox’s Free Live TV service, which launched last year, is available on Redbox.com, Roku, iOS and Android devices; Android TV, Vizio Smart TVs, LG TVs, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Chromecast. The service does not require a login; just download the app onto an enabled device, click “Free Live TV,” choose a channel, and start watching.

Law & Crime was created by TV legal commentator and attorney Dan Abrams and is backed by A+E Networks. Law & Crime is available on most major OTT services including fuboTV, Sling, Philo, Vidgo, Xfinity, XUMO and TV Plus as well as on basic cable packages in most states in the country.

Grammy-Winning Doc on Pop and Soul Icon Sam Cooke Returns to DVD April 30

Sam Cooke: Legend, the Grammy Award-winning feature documentary from ABKCO Films, will be reissued on DVD April 30.

The 66-minute film, which examines the life and music of Sam Cooke, soul’s first superstar, was originally released in 2003 and has long been out of print. Advance orders can be made here. The film was made available for streaming through Amazon Prime earlier this year in celebration of what would have been Cooke’s 90th birthday. The DVD re-release includes extra content providing additional insight into the life and legacy of Cooke, whose 29 Top 40 singles include such classics as “Cupid” and “You Send Me.”

Sam Cooke: Legend traces Cooke’s professional and personal life, from his gospel-singing roots in the early 1950s through his R&B and pop music career to his untimely death in 1964 at the age of 33, when he was shot dead by a Los Angeles motel manager.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film recounts Cooke’s commitment to the struggle for civil rights, underscored by his last and most enduring hit song, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” as well as his transcendent and consummate popular appeal. Sam Cooke: Legend was awarded a Grammy in 2004 in the Best Long Form Video (since renamed Best Music Film) category. One of the highlights includes archival newsreel footage of Cassius Clay, the jubilant newly-crowned heavyweight champion, spotting Cooke in the crowd and inviting him into the ring exclaiming, “Let that man up! This is Sam Cooke! This is the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer!” 

Sam Cooke: Legend was written by best-selling author Peter Guralnick, whose Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, is considered the definitive biography of the musical giant.  It is narrated by Tony Award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright and was directed by Mary Wharton and produced by Robin Klein and Mick Gochanour.

The documentary features rare and never-before-seen performance clips, TV footage and family photos, plus exclusive original interviews. These include conversations with the late Aretha Franklin, TV host Dick Clark, singer Lou Rawls (a childhood friend of Cooke) and R&B great Lloyd Price.

Cooke’s gospel roots are discussed by LeRoy Crume of the Soul Stirrers, the seminal group that Cooke joined as a teen; Cooke’s siblings; and his daughter, Zeriiya (Linda Cooke Womack). Another participant is recording mogul Lou Adler (Mamas and Papas, Carole King), who co-wrote “Wonderful World” with Cooke and Herb Alpert.

The DVD re-release includes a 3,000-word biography of Cooke and a comprehensive discography of his recordings, highlighting ABKCO’s Sam Cooke Remastered Series.  Beyond that the DVD’s extra content, running in excess of four-and-a-half hours and not seen in the streaming version, is highlighted by additional interview footage with numerous of Cooke’s contemporaries.

Born in Clarksdale, Miss., and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Cooke was the son of a Baptist minister. He started singing in the church choir as a child and, encouraged by his father, joined with his siblings to form a gospel group, the Singing Children. By the time he was a teenager, he had achieved significant success within the gospel community on the strength of his distinctive vocal style. In 1950 he was asked to replace legendary  singer R.H. Harris as lead vocalist of The Soul Stirrers.

Cooke crossed over into the world of popular music in 1957 and shot to the top of the R&B and pop charts with his self-penned “You Send Me.” From that time on, he was never out of the Top 40, with such hits as  “Wonderful World,” “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Another Saturday Night” and “Shake.”

Refusing to perform for segregated audiences in the South, Cooke utilized his stature as a performer to help break down the color lines separating blacks from whites, and in the process became, along with his friend Muhammad Ali, a symbol of the new Black American. Further inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Cooke wrote “A Change Is Gonna Come,” a song that would become an anthem of the civil rights movement after Cooke’s death.

DEG Expo on Feb. 25 to Focus on ‘Maturing D2C Landscape’

Josh Reader, president of Distribution and Development at AMC Networks, will be a featured speaker for DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s next DEG Expo, set for Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m. PT. Reader will chat with Looper Insights CEO Lucas Bertrand about marketplace dynamics for targeted direct-to-consumer services in 2021 and beyond.

The topic of the Feb. 25 DEG Expo is “The Maturing D2C Landscape,” with a particular focus on the targeted services landscape and the role connected devices play in the consumer experience. The program was developed with DEG’s D2C Alliance Council working group, which represents the global direct-to-consumer entertainment industry and supports its members to help create a robust marketplace to lead the new era of content consumption.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In addition to the Reader-Bertrand chat, the Feb. 25 DEG Expo also will present a panel discussion on the connected device experience, with Susan Agliata, director of Business Development, OTT Partnerships at Samsung; Ben Maughan, VP of New Ventures and Strategic Business Development for TiVo (Xperi); and John Buffone, executive director and industry analyst, Connected Intelligence, with The NPD Group. Other speakers include Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and National TMT Leader, Deloitte, who will present research on subscription churn; Andrea Downing, co-president, PBS Distribution; and DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith.

DEG launched the DEG Expo series last year to provide its members and the industry with education and community building opportunities through curated virtual events offering diverse perspectives on topics relevant to the digital media industry.

To learn more about joining the D2C Alliance or how to participate in this week’s D2C Expo, please contact Shannon Gregory at Shannon@degonline.orgRegister for the DEG Expo: The Maturing D2C Landscape here. See the full agenda here.

German AVOD Provider to Carry Comedy Dynamics Stand-Up Shows

German AVOD provider rlaxx TV on Feb. 11 announced it is bringing the award-winning comedy catalog from Comedy Dynamics to the popular streaming service.

Through its advertisement-based business model, rlaxx TV can offer its services free of charge to viewers. Comedy Dynamics’ catalog of stand-up comedy is accessible on smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices and Android TV. Content by Comedy Dynamics is available on the rlaxx TV app and is powered by Cinedigm’s proprietary Matchpoint Blueprint, a highly-scalable app development platform for OTT services. 

The partnership will make premium content from Comedy Dynamics available to rlaxx TV’s international audience. Additionally, the presentation of contents in curated special-interest channels enables an extremely precise addressing of the respective target group.  rlaxx TV is currently available on smart TVs from the following manufacturers: Panasonic, Blaupunkt, Hisense, Hitachi, JVC, Medion, Metz, Sharp, Telefunken, Toshiba and Vestel, as well as Amazon Fire devices and Android TV.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The service currently is available on about 50% of all smart TVs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the United Kingdom, representing approx. By mid-2021, rlaxx TV plans to be available on all OTT devices such as smart TVs (LGE, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony), media streamers (Google Chromecast, Roku), smartphones (Android, iOS), game consoles (X-Box, Playstation) and all standard internet browsers. Additionally, expansions into other international markets are planned. 

“We’re excited to have our catalog on rlaxx TV, because it moves us closer to our goal of offering top-tier stand-up comedy anytime, anywhere,” said Brian Volk-Weiss, founder and CEO of Comedy Dynamics.

Cinedigm to Distribute Four Channels on Rockbot Out-of-Home Streaming Platform

Cinedigm Feb. 8 announced a content distribution partnership with Rockbot, an out-of-home streaming TV service, to distribute four Cinedigm video channels to Rockbot’s business-to-business streaming media network.

Rockbot’s OOH TV network is available across the United States and provides access to untapped consumer audiences found inside locations such as gyms, bars/restaurants, and waiting rooms, colleges and more.

With more than 20 million consumers watching Rockbot TV every month, out-of-home audiences offer a net new opportunity for content providers looking to grow their OTT reach, Cinedigm said in a press release.

“At Cinedigm we remain focused on extending the reach of our AVOD services and ad-supported television networks as widely as possible,” said Tony Huidor, GM of Cinedigm Networks. “We are excited and eager to partner with innovative and emerging platform partners like Rockbot because we know the future of video streaming extends beyond the living room.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Rockbot’s platform allows businesses to search for Cinedigm programming at their venue any time of day. Its platform unifies the full spectrum of media solutions with an enterprise-grade software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, enabling businesses to control, schedule, and monitor any number of locations from a web dashboard and mobile app.

“Cinedigm’s superb content credibility matched with Rockbot’s modern media platform and business expertise create a new media solution that is in high demand by the market,” said Garrett Dodge, CEO of Rockbot. “Similar to residential cord cutting, the same trend is happening in businesses across the nation. It is a fantastic benefit and value-add for consumers to view Cinedigm programming when outside the home.”

The channels included in the partnership are the Bob Ross Channel, the Dove Channel, FashionBox and Whistle TV.

Opeka, Two Other Execs Promoted at Cinedigm

Cinedigm Corp. on Jan. 12 announced the promotion of Erick Opeka to chief strategy officer in addition to his current responsibilities as president of Digital Networks.

Opeka has 18 years of experience as an executive in entertainment and technology. As president of Cinedigm Networks, he oversees the
development, planning, launch and operation of the company’s portfolio of linear, ad-supported and subscription streaming services that reach more than 15 million monthly users across nearly 900 million addressable devices.

In addition to his role at Cinedigm, Opeka is on the board of directors and executive committee of OTT.X, the trade group representing the
streaming industry, and serves as an advisor to numerous streaming and entertainment companies through his work with seed accelerator Techstars.

He is also a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Cinedigm also announced the promotions of two other executives. Gary Loffredo adds the title of president to his current roles as chief operating officer, general counsel and secretary of Cinedigm Corp. And Yolanda Macias has been upped to chief content officer of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group. She previously was EVP for the group.

“We have expanded these key roles for the senior leadership team to fully capitalize on the tremendous growth we are experiencing in our digital streaming business,” said Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman and CEO. “I am fully confident that we now have the best leadership team in place to
rapidly grow the business and expand our leadership position in streaming channels, content and technology.

“All aspects of our streaming business are already experiencing strong growth, from our ad-based channels to our viewership and paid subscriber base to our digital content licensing business, and this team is now perfectly focused and aligned to further expand that growth operationally, strategically and through the acquisition roll-up initiative of streaming assets we are currently pursuing.”

Annual ‘Media Play News’ Awards Expands to Streaming, Gets New Name

Media Play News is revamping its annual home entertainment awards to add categories for streaming services, including original movies and series, in addition to content released for digital sellthrough and on disc formats such as Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

As a result, the program will also be presented under the updated name “Home Entertainment Media Play Awards.”

“Digital original programming offered by streaming services has become a vital part of the home entertainment industry, and we want our awards to reflect that reality,” said Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold.

For the past 10 years the honors were presented by Media Play News and a predecessor publication under the Home Media Awards banner, which had consolidated a number of DVD and Blu-ray awards presented before then.

Studios, content distributors and streaming services may submit nominations for the awards here through Feb. 26.

Fans can vote on the nominations in March and the winners will be announced in April.

Details about categories and submission guidelines are now available at MediaPlayNews.com/awards/home-entertainment-submission-form.

In last year’s awards, which were limited to the transactional segment of the home entertainment business, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned the top prize, taking Title of the Year and Best Theatrical Home Release.

Blu-ray Disc of the Year went to Lionsgate’s Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, which also won Best Catalog Home Release and Best Box Art. HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Complete Series won TV on Disc of the Year and Best Packaging.

Streaming Concert Series in 3D Audio Launches on New Lemonade.tv+ Platform

SoundFi has announced the launch of the first-ever streaming concert series in 3D audio on Lemonade.tv+, a new online and mobile platform.

The move marks an expansion of the availability of SoundFi’s 3D spatial audio format from movie theaters into the home.

SoundFi CEO Chris Anastas said Lemonade.tv+ is designed to enable the global creative community to seamlessly go live so they can promote and share their music. Fans can not only experience binaural audio while watching concerts, but also interact with artists and other fans, watch exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, purchase limited-edition merchandise and more.

Similar to the SoundFi theatrical experience for moviegoers, no special hardware or software is required; in fact, any pair of headphones or ear pods can be used to listen to content in SoundFi. Lemonade.tv+ is free and available everywhere on all devices (except Android, which is still in beta).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Now more than ever, the audio experience is increasingly important as we spend more time in headphones streaming on devices,” Anastas said. “We designed Lemonade.tv+ to bring consumers an easy way to enhance their entertainment experience, just by connecting their headphones to activate our 3D spatial sound technology.

“We pivoted quickly in March to see how we could bring this state-of-the-art technology into the homes and onto the mobile devices and laptops of every consumer, and we’re thrilled to launch.”

The Lemonade.tv+ platform is launching with a “SundaySessions”  virtual concert series featuring artists with the Texas Music Project, an organization that supports music education in schools. All proceeds from the concerts will benefit the Music Heals Program at Texas Children’s Hospital.  Virtual concerts will run into 2021.

“Lemonade.tv+ presents an opportunity to connect with fans like they’re in the studio with me, and that means so much at a time when we’re all longing for connection during the pandemic,” artist Hayley Orrantia said.  “As an ambassador and long-term partner with the Texas Music Project, I could not be prouder to be part of this program to bring smiles to everyone. The realistic live sound is incredible, and I’m so excited for my fans to hear some new music I’ve been working on, too.”

Sponsored by Sennheiser and Taylor Guitars, fans will be able to donate as well as participate in a virtual tip jar and giveaway for a GS mini guitar.

Later, the Lemonade.tv+ platform will offer movies, music, virtual concerts, eSports and additional exclusive events throughout 2020 and into 2021.