CEO Paulette Pantoja founded Blu Digital Group in 2007, focusing on quality control for film and TV content distributed on physical media. The company has since created proprietary workflows and patented applications as a solution for content owners and platforms to deliver streaming content. Pantoja’s expansion of the localization division within Blu in 2021 further broadened the company’s ability to deliver international content to audiences around the world.
After working at Ascent Media and Panasonic Hollywood Labs, Pantoja set up Blu Digital as the first dedicated Blu-ray Disc testing facility. In 2015, she evolved the business to provide content services for the digital media supply chain, leveraging Blu’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution to broadcasters and OTT platforms. In 2017, Blu began licensing its software to give clients control and visibility of their content preparation and distribution workflows. The company now also provides localization services and ad-insertion technology. Since its founding, Blu Digital Group has reached more than 300 million viewers, provided media services for more than 25 film and TV titles recognized by the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, and has serviced 3 million content hours. Blu has been recognized as one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the United States for 2021 and 2022, and Pantoja is an Ernst & Young Greater Los Angeles Entrepreneur of The Year 2022 finalist.
Media Play News asked Pantoja — who this year is also being honored with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment — about the history of her company and what’s next for the industry and Blu Digital.
MPN: Can you tell us about the history of Blu Digital Group?
Pantoja: I founded Blu in 2007 as a services company, providing quality assurance services (QA) for film and TV content, as well as consumer electronics products and technologies. I set the business up on my own, out of my apartment, using just my credit card to fund the business.
I credit my initial success to spotting gaps in the market, forming strategic alliances, and applying efficiencies to workflows. While I was working for Panasonic, I saw a lot of inefficiencies used in the QA processes of testing Blu-ray discs and realized there was an opportunity to implement software testing methodologies.
I left my job at Panasonic to set up the first dedicated Blu-ray testing facility and gained the interest of THX, George Lucas’s soundtrack recording and reproduction subsidiary. I pitched a strategic alliance with THX to outsource their THX certification, enabling me to fund my business and turn a profit in my first year with Warner Bros., Fox and Deluxe as clients. I then productized the world’s first online reporting system for Blu-ray and patented the product in 2012.
In 2015, I evolved the business to provide content services for the digital media supply chain, leveraging Blu’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution to broadcasters and OTT platforms. In 2017, I began licensing its software to give clients control and visibility of their content preparation and distribution workflows.
After securing series A funding in 2020, I have been able to build my management team, attracting key talent and taking the business to the next level of growth.
MPN: What services does the company offer?
Pantoja: Blu Digital Group is one of the leading media service providers in the industry today. The business is a premier end-to-end digital media solutions company empowering distributors to easily process and deliver their film and TV content by using Blu’s services and custom-tailored cloud-based software. The company’s mission is to continually innovate better ways to prepare, process and deliver media content so Blu can empower distributors and video platforms with tools and services that will help them share their stories with global audiences.
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MPN: You’re being honored with this year’s Hedy Lamarr award from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. What are your thoughts on the honor and the progress of women in the industry?
Pantoja: I strive to build a culture of innovation and inclusion at Blu Digital, and the DEG is helping to do that on an industry level with these awards recognizing women, who have traditionally been underrepresented in media technology. The pace of technology is always evolving, and I am honored to accept this recognition of Blu’s dedication to developing better and more efficient media management workflows.
MPN: As a home entertainment industry veteran, how do you see the evolution of the business, from disc to digital? How have the challenges and opportunities changed with the formats and how have they remained the same?
Pantoja: As the industry has evolved from disc to digital, we have gone through a plethora of different standards and automation opportunities. What has remained the same is the core service we provide — providing a streamlined service to entertainment companies enabling them to focus on their core services of creating content. Throughout the evolution of delivery methods, whether on a physical piece of plastic or a digital file, we have always strived to utilize the latest technology to streamline the process.
MPN: What’s next for Blu Digital?
Pantoja: We are on an aggressive projection of growth along with the rest of the media and entertainment industry. We are using our funding to make strategic acquisitions to build services and grow into new territories while refining our products and services for our existing clients.