Fandango’s Cameron Douglas Re-elected Chairman of OTT.X

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment for Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of OTT.X, the national trade association for the OTT/streaming industry. This will be his third term as chair.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Erick Opeka, president and chief strategy officer of Cinedigm; treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth at Premiere Digital Services; and secretary Rich Hull, president of Vix (a Univision Company). Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Media Group; Katherine Pond, VP of business development for VIZIO; and OTT.X past vice-chair Suyin Lim, senior director of content acquisitions and partnerships for Sony Playstation, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

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Other members of the board are Jill Allen, SVP of digital distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment; Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations for Movies Anywhere; Paul Colichman, CEO of Here Media; Jude Fitzmorris, principal product manager of Amazon; Marty Graham, SVP of Comscore; Bill Kotzman, partner product manager of TV/Film for YouTube/Google; Anthony Layser, VP of content partnerships and programming at Xumo; Silvana Moretti, VP of partner marketing and strategy at CuriosityStream; Quincy Newell, CEO of TwentyOne 14 Media; and Gordon Prince, SVP of operations and technology at Vubiquity.

“I look forward to another two years leading this engaged and vibrant group of Directors,” Douglas said in a statement. “OTT.X connects and nurtures our ecosystem, enabling innovation, collaboration and competition. I am proud to devote my time to an organization so important to our industry.”

“The companies on the OTT.X Board of Directors represent the spectrum of our industy,” Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO, said in a statement. “They range from smaller independent studios to multi-billion dollar retailers, and include channels, networks, platforms, digital retailers, content providers, and service and technology providers. This breadth enables the Board to guide our path to stability and growth and ultimately the best support and services for our members.”

OTT.X is the 501(c)6 not-for-profit trade association that has been supporting the home entertainment industry for more than 30 years.  OTT.X members form a global community of organizations throughout the OTT streaming industry and include content, service and technology providers, channels, platforms and retailers.  OTT.X (formerly EMA — the Entertainment Merchants Association) was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), founded in 1981, and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), organized in 1997.

OTT.X Fall Summit Moving Outside, Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination or Test

The OTT.X. Fall Summit, taking place Sept. 1-2 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, will move all activities outside, and attendees will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the start of the event.

Masks will not be required outdoors but will be required indoors at the Skirball Center during the event.

“We are aware of and have been closely monitoring the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” read an email from OTT.X. “So, in an abundance of caution and for the safety of our attendees, we have decided to take the Fall Summit outdoors.

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“All conference components including the main conference program, workshops, tabletops, meetings, cocktail receptions and more will be held outdoors. We have also instated some protocols to follow to ensure the health and safety of the conference.”

NAB Show to Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

The NAB Show scheduled for Oct. 9-13 in Las Vegas and associated co-located events will require attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Chris Brown, EVP and managing director of global connections and events for the National Association of Broadcasters, wrote in an email to the community.

“While the enthusiasm is building, we are keenly aware of health and safety concerns tied to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and want to assure you that we are putting in place a comprehensive, data-driven plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment at these events,” he wrote. “We have worked for the past several weeks to finalize protocols that will maximize the experience and safety of all members of the NAB Show community. This process has involved extensive consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a range of exhibitors and attendees, and review of the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s important announcement this week regarding large events.”

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The show floor will feature major brands such as Amazon Web Services, AJA, B&H, Canon, Grass Valley, MediaKind, Panasonic, Ross, Sony, Verizon and more, he wrote.

Major industry events, such as the Radio Show, Sales and Management Television Exchange and AES Show, will co-locate in Las Vegas.

OTT.X Promoting Diversity, Equality and Inclusion With Upcoming Webinars, Other Initiatives

The nonprofit industry association OTT.X has created a Call for Change group and has slated two webinars in September as part of an ongoing initiative to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in the OTT industry.

The upcoming webinars are “Inherent Bias in AI/Machine Learning,” presented by Slalom, and “A Look at How Representation Drives Viewership,” presented by Samba.

On Feb. 18, OTT.X hosted an online dialogue about social justice, racism exclusion and allyship within the industry. The objectives of the initial session were to identify the changes the industry can make today and those it can work toward impacting in the future. Participants defined these issues and opportunities:

a) The industry and the consumer will benefit from more diverse participation. Minority-owned businesses, and socially messaged content, can benefit from financing opportunities and distribution exposure.

b) Management ranks and senior leadership positions in the industry seem to be under-representative of the diversity of the population.

c) The industry has a unique opportunity to communicate to, and impact, the general public by the nature of its business.

“OTT.X recognizes that it can effectively do its part and impact and affect change within the OTT community of companies and individuals, such as within our industry’s workforce,” said OTT.X president and CEO Mark Fisher. “We can help by supporting the growth of minority-owned businesses and by holding our community accountable for its commitments regarding diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Industry executives across small and large companies and of diverse ethnicities are currently participating in OTT.X Call for Change.

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In November 2020, OTT.X conducted its first special webinar on inclusion, “A Path Toward Inclusion in the Workplace.”

In March, OTT.X invited its members to an online table reading of Polar Bears, Black Boys and Prairie Fringed Orchids, a play about environmental justice and police violence written by former OTT.X team member Vincent Durham, followed by a Zoom discussion among viewers with Durham.

OTT.X is also coordinating the development of a database of potential conference speakers and panelists from under-represented groups in the OTT ecosystem. OTT.X will utilize this list to ensure that it sets the example of diversity and inclusion with the speaker rosters at its own conferences and events, and will also make this list available to other organizations and conference operators.

Future projects being discussed include assisting minority companies in finding funding, connecting content creators with interested parties to create socially relevant content, working alongside a research partner to create an industry accountability report (examining follow-through related to commitments companies made after the George Floyd murder), and providing public service spots to run on AVOD channels in unsold slots.

Participation in the OTT.X Call for Change is not limited to OTT.X members.  All members of the OTT community are invited to engage. To learn more or get involved, email Fisher at mfisher@ottx.org.

OTT.X Launches Impact Awards, Appoints New Board Members

OTT.X, the industry trade association supporting the OTT streaming ecosystem, will host and deliver the first OTT.X Impact Awards at the annual OTT.X @Digital Media Pipeline event Dec. 10.

OTT.X was formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Awards will be given to OTT streaming producers and distributors for content that “most inspires positive action and promotes acceptance of, and equality for, all people,” according to the group. Content awards will be made for the most impactful full-length movie, short title and series across major and independent producer segments. Most impactful innovation will also be recognized for the technical, user-experience or platform innovation judged to have the most impact on the OTT industry.

“OTT.X stands proudly in support of the Black community and in solidarity with all who oppose and seek to negate racism, prejudice, hatred and exclusion,” said Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO, in a statement. “The goal of the Impact Awards is to recognize achievement for content and innovation in the OTT industry that makes a positive difference in the world. As distributors and creators of audio-visual content enjoyed by millions around the world, our industry has the power to educate and inspire. We’re excited about recognizing underrepresented artists, innovators and producers that use this power to inspire positive change and promote acceptance of and equality for all people.”

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To qualify for nomination, content must premiere on an OTT channel or platform, maintain exclusive availability via OTT distribution and be available in the United States for at least three weeks. The qualifying period is the twelve-months ended August 31, 2020. Nominations open Sept. 1 and close Oct. 11. Candidates for each award will be announced Nov. 2 with winners being awarded Dec. 10 at the Impact Awards Ceremony. All candidates and award winners will be determined by the Impact Awards Selection Committee, the members of which are approved by the OTT.X board of directors.

Additional information will be made available on the OTT.X site http://ottx.org/ in the coming weeks.

Jill Allen

In other news, OTT.X has appointed four new board members in line with its expanded scope, effective immediately. They are Sony Pictures Entertainment, represented by Jill Allen, SVP of digital distribution; Here Media, represented by Paul Colichman, CEO; Vizio, represented by Katherine Pond, VP of strategic partnerships; and Xumo, represented by Anthony Layser, VP of content partnerships and programming. The directors will serve until the annual OTT.X organizational board meeting in mid-2023.

“These new companies on the OTT.X board of directors will add to its effectiveness,” Fisher said in a statement. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as OTT.X continues to be the forum for the OTT industry.”

DEG Fetes 2019 Hedy Lamarr Award Recipients

Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, received the third annual “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology” from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Nov. 12 on the Sony lot in Culver City, Calif.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

In her acceptance speech, Bay said her husband Bob Iger unfortunately couldn’t attend as he had another engagement, launching the new streaming service Disney+.

The DEG also presented the “Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise, to Maya Tribbitt. Tribbitt is earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at the USC Annenberg and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and will receive  a financial award to continue her education.