With major focus on international streaming and sub growth in 2021, ViacomCBS Dec. 10 announced it has promoted longtime executive Raffaele Annecchino to CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. The 23-year veteran replaces David Lynn, who is departing the company after 24 years following the transition period, and reports to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.
Annecchino has held a number of positions across ViacomCBS Networks International, formerly Viacom International Media Networks, most recently as president of ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“Raffaele is an entrepreneurial, results-oriented leader with a proven ability to transform businesses and drive growth across diverse markets,” Bakish said in a statement. “His experience in expanding ViacomCBS’s international footprint, forging key partnerships and accelerating our push into mobile and digital platforms will be critical to building on our leadership positions across Europe, Latin America and Asia and realizing our global ambitions.”
Annecchino’s achievements include the launch and acquisition of free-to-air channels in the key markets of Italy, Spain and Germany, and the creation of a new business unit in September 2020 to help drive ViacomCBS’s digital businesses across the EMEAA region. He also led the expansion of Pluto TV in Europe, including launches in Spain and the upcoming roll out in France and Italy in 2021.
ViacomCBS Jan. 14 unveiled a management restructure of its international networks division, which is intended to leverage the company’s expanded operations following the $12 billion re-merger between Viacom and CBS.
The reorganization aims to simplify ViacomCBS Networks International into two brand groups and three pan-regional management hubs, reporting to David Lynn, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI).
ViacomCBS Networks International, a unit of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAC), features a portfolio comprised of Network 10, Channel 5, Telefe, Viacom 18, ViacomCBS International Studios, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network and Pluto TV among others.
In addition to offering innovative streaming services and digital video products, ViacomCBS Networks International provides production, distribution and advertising for partners on five continents and across more than 180 countries.
Kerry Taylor, currently EVP of MTV International and chief marketing officer for VCNI U.K. has been promoted to EVP of VCNI entertainment & youth brands, reporting to David Lynn and Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment & youth brands, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.
Taylor’s new remit will include international oversight of MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and BET. Taylor has been with MTV International since 2007 and has been co-head of MTV International since 2012. Taylor is credited with reinventing the MTV international brand positioning, developing a successful global franchise strategy and commissioning content that drove international ratings successes such as “Geordie Shore,” “The Charlotte Show,” “Ex on The Beach” and “Just Tattoo of Us”.
Taylor will continue to work with Bruce Gillmer, EVP, music & talent programming/events, ViacomCBS. Jill Offman, who previously led Comedy Central and Paramount Network internationally will switch to the international studio business, as EVP of ViacomCBS International Studios U.K.
Jules Borkent has been promoted to EVP, VCNI kids & family, reporting to Lynn and Brian Robbins, president, kids & family entertainment, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks. Borkent has been with Nickelodeon since 2001, having led channel operations and content strategy including programming, acquisitions, originals and digital for Nickelodeon International, which has delivered continued growth during his tenure.
Working in alignment with Nickelodeon U.S., Borkent established the international programming council and manages a multi-million-dollar content investment across kids & family programming.
“Kerry and Jules are exceptional creative and strategic professionals,” Lynn said in a statement. “Kerry brings equal parts marketing acumen and a genuine connection to the global youth zeitgeist which has driven MTV’s successful international franchise strategy and ratings success. Jules is a respected industry voice, who’s dedicated to bringing unique and diverse content to Nickelodeon audiences around the world.”
Lynn said consolidating international brands into two groups would more closely align the businesess with ViacomCBS’ U.S. brands, affording “maximum value” from the media giant’s content investment and libraries.
Meanwhile, Maria Kyriacou, who most recently was president of International for ITV Studios, will join the newly expanded division on Feb. 3, with a new brief as president, ViacomCBS Networks U.K. & Australia, which includes responsibility for Ireland, New Zealand and Israel.
With focused oversight of ViacomCBS’s operations in its two most valuable international markets, including its free-to-air broadcast networks, Channel 5 and Network 10, Kyriacou will seek content and commercial synergies between the company’s portfolio of networks and streaming services across these English-language markets.
Paul Anderson, who is CEO of Network 10, additionally becomes EVP, ViacomCBS Networks Australia and New Zealand with immediate effect, reporting to Kyriacou.
At the same time, Raffaele Annecchino, who is currently president of the division’s operations across Southern and Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will also take on an expanded role in the new structure, with additional responsibility for the company’s operations in Northern and Eastern Europe and key Asian markets.
As President, ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA), Annecchino goal will be to deliver additional growth in European markets through the closer alignment of its operations across the continent as part of an EMEA structure. With a track record of driving market-beating growth from both on-screen and off-screen activities in the markets for which he currently has responsibility, Annecchino will focus on developing scale in the company’s operations in EMEAA in addition to continuing to be responsible for VCNI’s mobile strategy.
JC Acosta will be the third of the division’s senior pan-regional leaders, having recently been promoted to president, ViacomCBS Networks Americas. In this role, Acosta is responsible for the company’s operations across Latin America — including the key markets of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico — as well as in Canada and the U.S. Hispanic market.
He is tasked with the ongoing expansion of ViacomCBS’s portfolio of networks, streaming services and associated businesses across the region including: its fast-growing Studios business in the Americas; Argentinian free-to-air broadcast market leader, Telefe; and, digital services including Porta Dos Fundos.
Both Borkent and Acosta succeed Pierluigi Gazzolo, who prior to his recently announced promotion to president of studios and OTT for ViacomCBS Networks International, was president, VCNI Americas and EVP of Nickelodeon International. Gazzolo, who also reports to Lynn, assumed his new dedicated role on the 1st of this year.
“ViacomCBS is truly a global leader in terms of the quality, volume and range of content we produce and own and we aim to exploit the incredible pipelines at our disposal to deliver exceptional growth across international markets, not just for ourselves but for our partners as well,” Lynn said.
As a result of these regional changes, Mark Whitehead, president & managing director of VCNI Asia Pacific, will be leaving the company, at the end of January.
“I am extremely grateful for Mark’s many contributions to our ongoing success,” Lynn said. “He has played the leading role in transforming our operations across Asia to the point where they have just delivered their highest ever rate of annual growth. Mark leaves us excellently positioned in key markets across the region to continue on an exceptional growth trajectory.”
Viacom International Media Networks has promoted Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of VIMN Americas and EVP of Nickelodeon International, to president of OTT International and Viacom International Studios (VIS).
The move signals Viacom’s increasing importance of over-the-top video distribution and studio businesses worldwide. Gazzolo reports to David Lynn, president & CEO of VIMN.
In this new role, Gazzolo will focus on accelerating the rollout of Pluto TV across international markets, starting with a major launch across Latin America in early 2020.
In addition, Gazzolo will further establish VIMN’s D2C products in partnership with distributors. He will also be responsible for creating an integrated Viacom International Studios operation, managing original content creation assets across ViacomCBS internationally.
Gazzolo will be responsible for establishing Viacom’s international business strategies, product offerings and operations for these critical growth areas of the business in all international markets.
He will work with Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer for ViacomCBS and CEO of CBS Interactive and Tom Ryan, CEO and Co-founder of Pluto TV to expand the company’s digital strategy to the international market.
As president of VIMN Americas, Gazzolo is credited for driving the extraordinary growth of VIMN’s business in the region and was responsible for the expansion of the business through the acquisition of Telefe and Porta dos Fundos. During his tenure, Gazzolo led the transformation of VIMN Americas, including establishing its non-linear presence through innovative multiplatform products and services such as Paramount + and Noggin and working with the Pluto TV team to launch 11 Pluto Latino channels to the US Hispanic market earlier this year – which has since grown to 22 channels and 4,000 hours of Spanish and Portuguese content.
Under Gazzolo’ s leadership, Viacom International Studios (VIS) was launched following the 2016 acquisitions of Telefe and then Porta dos Fundos. Synergies recognized by those acquisitions enabled the launch of VIS first in the Americas in 2018 and then in the U.K., Europe and Asia in 2019. In 2019 VIS Americas revenues grew by 57%.
“Pier is a uniquely dynamic executive and has an unrivalled track record of growing revenues for the entire VIMN ecosystem,” Lynn said in a statement. “Pier’s leadership in the streaming and OTT space has driven subscriber growth and established VIMN as a key player in OTT in the region partnering with MVPD’s and mobile operators. I’m confident that Pier will apply the same vision and rigor to launching these key business lines for ViacomCBS internationally as we continue to super serve our distribution partners.”
Separately, Juan (“JC”) Acosta, currently EVP, and COO of VIMN Americas, will be promoted to president of VIMN Americas, effective Jan. 3rd, 2020.
“JC’s understanding of the entertainment industry, strategic expertise and deep knowledge of both VIMN and the international television market make him ideally suited for his new role,” Lynn said. “JC’s tenure with VIMN and impact on the business to date, will ensure both a seamless leadership transition and a continued growth trajectory for our Americas operations. JC played a key role in the transformation of the VIMN Americas business, integrating and managing Telefe and Porta dos Fundos, and is ideally equipped to take VIMN Americas through its next stage of growth.”
In his new role, Acosta will be responsible for VIMN operations for Latin America, spanning Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, as well as Canada and the US Hispanic market. He will be tasked with the ongoing expansion of VIMN’s portfolio and products in the region, including its multiplatform business, global studio and content distribution and licensing efforts and TV channels (MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Channel, and Telefe, Argentina’s leading free-to-air broadcaster) and digital portfolio (including Porta Dos Fundos).
JC has been with VIMN for 13 years, having first joined the company in 2007 as VP and CFO of VIMN Americas. Since that time, Acosta has served in a variety of roles leading to his current role as EVP Chief Financial Officer & Executive in Charge of Production. Acosta has worked across a range of areas of the VIMN Americas business and was a key partner to Gazzolo, as COO of the America business as they designed and implemented the integration of Telefe and Porta dos Fundos.