Starz Promotes Darren Nielson to EVP, International Networks

Darren Nielson has been promoted to EVP of international networks at Starz, taking over for Superna Kalle.

Darren Nielson

In his new role, Nielson reports directly to Starz president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch. He will oversee the international division’s growth for its newly rebranded international service Lionsgate+, including P&L responsibility and all aspects of programming, distribution, marketing and publicity in the U.K., Latin America and Brazil, Canada, and Australia. He will also have oversight of Lionsgate+ original series.

Nielson joined the company in 2018 as  international distribution and business development for the Starz-branded digital and linear services and channels, working closely with Kalle to develop expansion strategies, identify and evaluate partner opportunities, and source and negotiate distribution agreements with in-territory partners.

“Darren has been instrumental in building our international business working with Superna since joining the company in 2018,” Hirsch said. “He has a deep knowledge of the global streaming landscape and is a respected strategic executive. We look forward to maximizing growth and profitability of our international markets under his leadership.”

He added that Kalle “did a great job in rapidly scaling an international service from the ground up, forming many new distribution partnerships and building a robust slate of international original series. We are grateful for her leadership and dedication to the company and wish her continued success.”  

Prior to joining Starz, Nielson served as director of content acquisition at Netflix, helping grow the service from a domestic DVD business into a global leader in streaming video. Nielson was instrumental in launching and building Netflix across Europe and Asia and managed global licensing relationships with major studios and local partners across both film and TV series.

Prior to Netflix, Nielson held business development positions at Sony Pictures Television and Ascent Media.

Starz Adds Former Netflix, Lionsgate Executives to Digital Networks Team

Lionsgate-owned Starz Sept. 5 announced the hiring of former Netflix executive Darren Nielson as SVP of distribution and business development at its international digital networks team led by EVP Superna Kalle.

Starz also named Jeff Cooke, ex-VP of global digital at Lionsgate, its new VP of programming at international digital networks.

Nielson, based in Lionsgate’s Santa Monica corporate office, will lead the distribution and business development for Starz’ digital and linear services and channels, working with Kalle to develop expansion strategies, identify and evaluate partner opportunities, and source and negotiate distribution agreements with in-territory partners.

Prior to joining Starz, Nielson served as director of content acquisition at Netflix. He was instrumental in building Netflix’s presence across Europe and Asia managing global licensing relationships with major studios and local partners across both film and TV content.

Cooke, also based in Santa Monica, will oversee programming for the international expansion of the Starz OTT subscription service to new global markets. He will be tasked to define and implement the content strategies across all international territories and identify key programming initiatives through data insights and analytics.

Cooke will curate content that defines the Starz brand in each region and capitalize on global trends and strategies. Cooke will continue to work with London-based Brett Marottoli, head of program acquisitions, to identify and acquire additional content for the StarzPlay platform.

Prior to Lionsgate, Cooke held positions at Miramax and MGM.

“Darren and Jeff bring a wealth of global acumen and skill to this international team at a time of significant growth for our company and our brand,” Kalle said in a statement. “I look forward to exploring new opportunities around the world for our content across digital and linear platforms with them on board.”