Thoughts From the Top

For this year’s 40 Under 40 issue, I once again reached out to some of home entertainment’s top executives and asked them what they’d like to say to our Class of 2023 honorees. And in sharp contrast to our current political environment, the phrase that kept popping up most was to “be kind.”

“Be curious and make an effort to get to know people,” says Garson Foos, CEO of Shout! Studios. “Find a mentor, or at least people who will be helpful by initiating in-person conversations and meetings. Don’t get discouraged if someone isn’t responsive. You will meet someone, or several people, who will engage and will want to help you. If you take initiative and show that you’re interested, or maybe even passionate about the work or the content, it will be infectious and people will want to support you. And then do the same for those coming up behind you. Be kind and generous — it will make people want to do the same for you.”

From Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment: “In a world that is evolving as quickly, and often unexpectedly, as home entertainment, it’s important to be flexible, to never be afraid of trying new ideas, and to take risks, even if there is a chance you might fail. No one can predict the future; all we can do is rely on the best intelligence, the best data and, sometimes, our own best gut instincts. And through it all, remember to treat everyone with respect, kindness and grace.”

Lexine Wong, head of global multichannel marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment, offers her congratulations to this year’s honorees and notes, “It’s certainly a fascinating time to be in the entertainment industry. There are many reasons you have chosen careers in entertainment: You have a passion for content and storytelling, you love this industry’s fast pace, you embrace technology, and you relish delighting consumers with boundary-pushing creative, just to name a few reasons. As business models continue to evolve across all segments of the industry, it’s a great time to stand out and build your careers. As you all work to do that, there is no substitute for hard work. Embrace and influence change, be a problem solver vs. a problem identifier, add value, be transparent, be honest, be open, and, most importantly, be kind. You are the change makers paving the way for the next generation.”

Premiere Digital head of growth Michele Edelman also offers her congratulations: “You have been acknowledged by your colleagues, managers and our industry, and this is a wonderful recognition. The best piece of advice shared with me that I love to pass on is, sometimes you have to leave the places you love in the beginning, but you can always go back. In an ever-changing industry, such as ours, this is important to remember. And, lastly, work to your heart’s desire and not to the beat of someone else’s. Your rhythm is what drives you and will be the guide for your success. Lead with love and know nice people do finish first. Being kind is a recipe for success in business.”

Andrea Downing, CEO of PBS Distribution, kept her comments short and sweet: “Lean in, say yes, ask for help and collaborate well with others.”

Looking Back at 2022: Streamers Stumble and Turn to Ads as Hollywood Bemoans Erosion of Traditional ‘Second Window’

NEWS ANALYSIS — As the nation slowly emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, home entertainment faced a whole new set of challenges and concerns in 2022.

Subscription streaming, the golden child of the pandemic era, began showing cracks, beginning with Netflix posting significant subscriber losses in the first and second quarters of the year, which sent the streamer’s stock price tumbling. Then came the Walt Disney Co.’s sacking of Bob Chapek from the CEO slot, in part due to the high costs of Disney+, a key factor in the company’s sinking stock price. And HBO Max, after an April merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery, ended the year with a rash of film and series getting dumped to cut costs and prep the service for a union next year with Discovery+.

“2022 definitely felt like a roller coaster of recalibrated expectations for our business on Wall Street, with M&A, growth amid higher churn for direct-to-consumer subscription services, and escalating costs for content production and acquisition,” observes Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the digital entertainment trade association. “Even when the ride was bumpy, though, there were a lot of bright spots, including the growth of ad-supported streaming services (AVOD and FAST) and a wider range of subscription services, the return of in-person events to foster cross-industry collaboration, and, most importantly, consumers’ deep and abiding engagement with premium content across distribution models including transactional, subscription and ad-supported.”

“2022 was another growth year for the OTT business, with SVOD still the leading revenue contributor, but with AVOD and FAST growing rapidly and changing the way that consumers access and enjoy motion picture and episodic content in the home,” adds Mark Fisher, president and CEO of OTT.X, the streaming trade association. “And TVOD remains the primary way that consumers conveniently access new releases and catalog content, much of which is only available via VOD.”

Subscription streaming remains the dominant way in which consumers enjoy entertainment at home or on the go, and in fact grew its overall market share to nearly 85% of all consumer spending on home entertainment, according to the latest DEG numbers.

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But the King Midas touch first felt during the heyday of the pandemic, when theaters were closed and people were asked to stay home, is clearly gone — as evidenced by the launch late in 2022 of cheaper, advertising-supported subscription plans by both Disney+ and Netflix in an effort to boost revenues.

The jury is still out on whether the gambit will succeed, although early reports suggest Netflix, at least, is running into a little trouble. Research house Antenna in December reported that the $6.99 “Basic With Ads” plan nabbed just 9% of new Netflix domestic subscription sign-ups during its first month of availability, while only 0.1% of Netflix’s existing U.S. subscribers switched to the ad-supported option. At the same time, Reelgood found hundreds of movies and TV shows are missing on the ad-supported tier.

Bill Rouhana

“For SVOD services, the major development for 2022 was the sobering reality that their business models, as currently constructed, are not sustainable — as subscriber growth has slowed and content costs have continued to escalate,” observes Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, a leading provider of free streaming content. “SVODs were spending heavily on original content to differentiate their services and ultimately ran up huge debts. That, combined with an economy that’s in a recession, and consumers cutting back on paying for multiple SVOD services, makes for a challenging future, with maybe one or two winners.”

Not surprisingly, then, the biggest success story for home entertainment in 2022 is the proliferation of completely free streaming content, both on-demand (ad-supported video-on-demand, or AVOD) and linear (free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST).

In this part of the business, one of the biggest developments of 2022 was the August acquisition of Redbox by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which gave the combined company more than 145 FAST channels on top of its already strong presence in the AVOD market with Crackle and other services.

“Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment massively scaled for the future in 2022 with the acquisition of Redbox,” Rouhana said. “We’ve been working to integrate the companies and are close to finishing that.”

Stefan Van Engen, SVOD of content programming and partnerships at Xumo, a premium FAST service, maintains that “FAST has become an industry darling in the past year.  From independent content owners to major media companies, everyone wants to participate.”

Meanwhile, the fallout from home entertainment’s “streaming uber alles” philosophy has had a pronounced effect on Hollywood, as the financial realities of producing content for primary consumption on all-you-can-watch streaming services led to a dearth of theatrical feature films, particularly after the year’s midpoint. According to Comscore, just 22 films opened theatrically over the summer, half as many as in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. Not surprisingly, box office revenues for the year are expected by Gower Analytics to clock in at $25.8 billion, up 21% from 2021 but a significant drop from the $42.3 billion generated in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.

Further impacting Hollywood’s bottom line in 2022 was the continued erosion of what was once the biggest post-theatrical revenue-generator, disc (DVD and Blu-ray) and, to a lesser extent, a la carte digital sales and rentals (known as TVOD, for “transactional video-on-demand”).

“In the rush to feed the big streaming services, many of them under the same corporate ownership, the big studios have effectively turned their back on what has traditionally been their biggest post-theatrical revenue generator,” says one veteran industry observer. “Without this critical component of the movie food chain, billions of dollars are being flushed away.”

Indeed — movies rarely generate enough money from the box office to turn a profit. In the not-too-distant past, even films that lost money at the box office more than made up the difference through robust packaged-media sales, which for a time even exceeded theatrical revenues, as well as foreign licensing rights. Projected disc sales even became a factor in studio decisions on whether to greenlight movies or not.

But as subscription streaming became the dominant form of home entertainment consumption, Hollywood seemed to lose interest in this once-crucial second window. Sure, the studios tried getting people to buy movies digitally, but consumers weren’t biting, particularly since they could get a whole month’s worth of entertainment from Netflix and the other streamers at roughly the same cost of a single digital movie.  Discs, meanwhile, were all of a sudden seen as yesterday’s technology. In 2006, the year Blu-ray Disc was launched, disc sales brought in nearly $17 billion in consumer spending. In 2021, the latest full year for which figures are available, the total was less than $2 billion.

In the first nine months of this year, according to DEG estimates, 84% of the total consumer spend on home entertainment, or $22.3 billion, went to subscription streaming services. Consumers spent just $4.7 billion on physical and digital purchases and rentals. Combined purchase and rental spending on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs slipped 15% to an estimated $1.6 billion, while digital sellthrough and VOD revenues fell less than 3% to $3.16 billion.

The physical media side of the business received a jolt in the fall when Walmart, still the No. 1 retailer of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, seemingly implemented a 20% reduction in floor space in its electronics department for discs.

And yet home entertainment executives are adamant that the traditional, transactional home entertainment model, including discs, still has plenty of life left in it.

Bob Buchi

“Thanks to consumer demand, creative efforts from the studios, and the ongoing support from digital and physical retailers, the transactional business continues to be remarkably resilient despite the challenges of the last few years,” says Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media for Paramount Pictures. “In 2022, the industry and consumers benefited from the very welcome return of theatrical new releases, sales of which were up 69% across the industry through October, while also providing the longer-term benefit of refreshing the catalog business for years to come.”

Buchi says Paramount Home Entertainment in 2022 “enjoyed a 200%+ spike in the theatrical new release business thanks particularly to Top Gun: Maverick and its record-setting digital sales at over 4.5 million transactions inception-to-date in the domestic market alone and equally impressive results from around the world.

“Meanwhile, consumers continue to show up for both digital and physical releases of special catalog titles. Our 50th anniversary celebration of The Godfather this year generated over $25 million in consumer spend. We’ve also seen a strong consumer response to 4K debuts of titles like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Pulp Fiction. In television, the ‘Yellowstone’ franchise continues to dominate, generating more than $125 million in consumer spend this year, which has helped spur the expansion of the Taylor Sheridan universe to ‘1883,’ ‘1923’ and ‘Tulsa King.’”

Buchi maintains that traditional home entertainment “remains very important to collectors and cinephiles who appreciate the best-possible quality audio and video presentation and the compelling bonus features, while general audiences appreciate the broad selection and the flexibility to access their favorite films whenever they want.”

Michael Bonner

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Michael Bonner also had a very good year. “From premium windows through to catalog, Universal’s transactional business remains very strong, with robust consumer demand for content across windows and formats,” he says. “Our premium window continues to generate meaningful engagement with audiences and material value to our home entertainment business with titles like Sing 2Jurassic World Dominion and Black Phone leading the way. Providing consumers with broader choice and flexibility in how and where they see our movies is working to further fuel adoption and engagement.”

Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution for North America Television & Home Entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment, says the transactional business “continues to thrive, particularly from a digital point of view. Even with the rapid increase of SVOD options and other new-release patterns over the past few years, transactional digital continues to be a core business, satisfying the ongoing consumer need to curate a purchased virtual collection of latest hits and library favorites. Over the past year we were extremely pleased with the digital performance of many of our films, including Ghostbusters: AfterlifeSpider-Man: No Way Home and Uncharted.”

Jason Spivak

Adam Frank, SVP of global digital sales and distribution at Lionsgate, said digital movies sales were one of the company’s bright spots in 2022.

“We have seen new releases continue to perform extremely well via electronic sellthrough, in some cases ahead of pre-COVID levels across the entire box office spectrum,” he says. “Consumers are eager for new content no matter how they access it — transactionally or via SVOD or AVOD — with theatrical-first product proving to be the most valuable from a downstream monetization standpoint.”

For independents, the rise of AVOD presents another potentially lucrative sales opportunity, coming at a time when sales to SVOD providers is increasingly hit-or-miss as the subscription streamers vacillate between producing their own content or buying it from third parties.

“AVOD has become a fantastic category for us — both our own FAST channels, and distribution on a myriad of platforms,” says Garson Foos, CEO of independent film distributor Shout! Factory. “We see that continuing to grow. It’s the emergence of the long-tail into visual content — as we’ve seen with streaming services for music.”

As for the traditional transactional end of the business, that’s still the indies’ core.

“2022 was another strong year for transactional, with a strong new-release slate — Belle, Operation Sea Wolf and JFK: Destiny Betrayed — paired with strong catalog pickups (Laika Studios, Ferngully, the ‘Halo’ catalog),” Foos says.

Garson Foos

The gift market remains a bright spot for independents, almost exclusively on the physical side of the business.

“Our impression is that it’s largely physical,” Foos says. “We don’t have a lot of evidence that the gift purchase has transitioned to digital. We still see good sales from holiday gift-card giving in late December and early January. And our complete-series TV sets, deluxe film sets like ‘Friday the 13th,’ ‘Halloween’ and our deluxe Steelbook packages always see big spikes around the holidays. Nothing says Happy Hanukah like our new Carrie 4K UHD Steelbook release.”

“People like tangible gifts, and discs are still a great tangible gift,” adds Ed Seaman, chief operating officer of the MVD Entertainment Group, another leading indie.

“Similar to the vinyl collector’s marketplace, deluxe Blu-rays and UHDs are coveted, and not just for the superior quality,” he continues. “Nobody predicted that vinyl would continue to grow since its resurgence 15 years ago, yet each year it is reaching new heights.  The video market shall likely follow for the collector’s market. Digital gift giving seems less and less relevant with the market trending more and more to AVOD.”

Overall, though, “for independent product and catalog, transactional can be challenging,” Seaman maintains.

“Getting placement on the biggest and best platforms can be a struggle, but when something does get placed the results are still very good,” he says. “Inclusive digital platforms for film remains the biggest challenge — and opportunity — in our industry.  There is no consistent place to find virtually any film you’d like to see. Everyone is fatigued by the need to subscribe to multiple services to see what you want to see. Compared to the music industry, there is no Spotify in the video business where you can reliably find virtually anything you’d like to watch.

“There is an opportunity to build or aggregate the various sources of entertainment into one easy-to-use, all-you-can-eat service.  The fragmentation and frustration in finding what you want is also an opportunity for disc sales, which is now the most reliable way to find what you want.”

Shout! Factory Promotes Veteran Exec Melissa Boag to EVP

Shout! Factory on March 15 announced the promotion of longtime senior executive Melissa Boag to EVP of kids and family entertainment.

In her new role, Boag will continue to work closely with CEO Garson Foos in overall leadership across the company and big picture strategy that supports Shout’s long-term growth. In addition, she will continue to expand her role in the content acquisitions process and continue to oversee all aspects of animated and live-action family entertainment for Shout! Factory, Shout! Studios and Shout! Factory Kids.

Melissa Boag

“Melissa is a high-level strategic thinker and a successful leader,” Foos said. “Her impact on Shout’s business is tremendous. Many years back, she had the vision that kids and family entertainment could be a very big business for Shout! And she was right. She has driven the growth across this business vertical by super-serving our partners and maximizing business opportunities. This has led to our excellent reputation and consistent acquisition of new and top-level content partners.”

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Boag said, “I am so proud to work at Shout Factory, with a truly amazing team of dedicated and talented individuals who share my vision and passion for animation, anime and family entertainment. I look forward my new leadership role at Shout Factory and to charting the continued expansion of family content here.”

Boag joined Shout! Factory in 2003 and most recently served as SVP. As head of the family entertainment division, she develops North American marketing, publicity, distribution, acquisitions, and sales strategy in the physical and digital business. She oversees the company’s key partnerships with Sesame Street, Hasbro/eOne Entertainment., GKIDS, Laika Studios, Anime Limited, Toei Animation, Eleven Arts, and other notable filmmakers and producers.

Under Boag’s management, Shout’s animated entertainment business has seen significant growth each year, showcasing key lines including Studio Ghibli classics with GKIDS, Laika Studios specialty releases, the classic “Transformers” series and animated movie, GKIDS’ wide range of acclaimed animated and anime films, “Digimon Adventure tri” movies, along with other top anime properties and critically acclaimed family movies.

Q&A: Garson Foos on the Ever-Expanding Universe of Shout! Factory

Garson Foos is CEO of Shout! Factory, a leading independent film distributor that since its launch in 2003 has branched out into streaming while doubling down on its commitment to physical media. A cousin to the legendary Rhino Records label, co-founded by older brother Richard and sold to Warner Music in 2001, Shout! is known for its lavish boxed sets and collections like last year’s award-winning collection of “Friday the 13th” movies as well as its support of anime and other niche genres.

Media Play News spoke with Foos as part an ongoing series of conversations with home entertainment leaders past, present — and future.

MPN: At a time when the big studios are still suffering from the lack of fresh product resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of movie theaters, you seem to be releasing more content, both digitally and on disc, than ever. Can you put a number on how many titles you’ve released over the past year and how that compares to the prior year? And what’s the driver?

Foos: Our deal and release flow is stronger than ever. We had a lot of titles in the pipeline prior to the pandemic, and we benefited from the vast majority of our releases not requiring a theatrical release. We released two to four new films a month, and another 10 to 15 library releases. Beyond that we released a good number of library films and shows digital only. We released hundreds of episodes of both “The Johnny Carson Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show” only digitally. We have broadcast rights to the entire Stephen J. Cannell library worldwide, and we have other digital rights on a smaller number of those shows. We also started releasing seasons of the “Ultraman” series for digital streaming, largely on our TokuShoutsu channels. So a large amount of content is released physically, as well as a lot of additional content coming out digital only.

MPN: Shout! Factory continues to be particularly strong in anime. What prompted this, and how do you market your product to anime fans?

Foos: We’ve always been really good at playing in the niches. We’re pop culture junkies from way back, and we got into the kids business big in 2009 with Hasbro and their animated “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” series, as well as “My Little Pony.” There were several rare Japanese-made “Transformers” series that we distributed.  We also had big success with the the “Power Rangers” series years later, and uncovered the Japanese versions — “Super Sentai” — and did well with those series. It made sense to move into anime from our roots. Melissa Boag is our head of Kids & Family and she had her eye on the anime business for years. She helped us acquire the film In This Corner of the World, which was beautiful and exceeded our expectations. Soon after that we struck up a relationship with GKIDS, who are the best in the business in anime film. Through them, we got the Studio Ghibli library in late 2017. Together with GKIDS we released new deluxe versions of the films on DVD and Blu-ray, and the sales were far beyond expectations. In late 2019 GKIDS was able to make the titles available for the digital transactional business and we worked with them on that. We’ve (via GKIDS) put out many other new and library films, including Promare and Weathering With You last year, which have performed extremely well. We also work with Eleven Arts, which had the film Silent Voice in 2019, which did very well, and we have several more really good projects coming with them. Anime is one of the best categories that is not dominated by the major studios, and it’s a growing category for us that we see continuing.

MPN: Despite your obvious commitment to transactional and, in particular, physical media, Shout! does have other business models. Can you give us a brief rundown about other distribution platforms you have under the Shout! umbrella?

Foos: We distribute directly to just about every account in all revenue streams. We’ve been highly focused on growing our digital and broadcast business in the last many years. Our combined non-physical businesses have doubled each of the past two years and will again this year. Our TVOD business and ad supported streaming are the two biggest areas. Licensing sales for streaming services and broadcast is growing rapidly and is also significant. The Shout! Factory TV business, including our Mystery Science Theatre 3000 channel, The Carol Burnett Show channel, Johnny Carson TV and TokuShHOUTsu channels are a big part of the ad-supported digital streaming business. They are FAST channels on some platforms and on demand on others, and they’re everywhere you’d want to be. We see a lot of growth potential in our channel business, and in our digital distribution business in general. As we continue to get more and better content both on the library and new film side, and see the number of platforms and market size grow, we’re going to see big growth for Shout.

MPN: What’s next for Shout, other than the growth areas you mentioned already?

Foos: We’re starting to do some of our own original productions and see a lot of opportunities here, while doing it with a low-risk approach. We partnered on the production of the Western Old Henry starring Tim Blake Nelson. It comes out in October and premiered at the Venice Film Festival to a fantastic response. We’ve made deals in all the major international territories thanks to the Venice success.  We had seen indie Westerns succeeding transactionally, and thought that it would be a good genre to produce ourselves. We had been trying to get one made for years, and finally with Hideout Pictures we were able to get Tim Blake Nelson to take the lead role, and it came out extremely well. We’re going to do another one with them.

With our partner Joel Hodgson we had rebooted “Mystery Science Theater 3000” after buying the rights to the library and brand in 2015. Given the passionate loyalty of the audience we had crowd-funded to raise the money for the first reboot season (11). We then sold it to Netflix, which ordered a second season but didn’t continue after that. We crowd-funded again this year and raised $6.5 million so we’re making another 13 episodes. The first one should premiere in February for the Kickstarter “backers” initially.

We also just completed a remake of the Roger Corman classic Slumber Party Massacre for the Syfy channel. It comes out in October. We own 270 films from the Corman library and have remake rights, so we’re working on films and series born out of that fertile I.P. We have other films and shows in the works as well, and it will be a growing part of our business.

We’re highly focused on buying film and TV libraries. We’ve bought a handful over the years and are looking to do a lot more in that area. We have a number of large library film distribution deals in the works and we’ll be announcing several soon, and more as they close.

We’re doing bigger new film pre-buys and pick-ups. The recent Mark Duplass/Natalie Morales film Language Lessons is a good example. It’s getting excellent reviews and we’ve licensed it to a major streamer to start next year. We intend to continue to up our game in genre films, and in smart and quirky indie films as well.

We see opportunity in the international business. Our business is growing there and we’re having good success with Cannell library, our Corman films and other content that we control internationally. We see continuing to partner with strong independent companies in each territory, and eventually having our own staff, or investing in local companies locally to make sure that we really understand the nuances of each significant territory.

MPN: Tell us about the Shout! Factory backstory — starting with the name.

Foos: We had a really hard time coming up with a name. Every time we liked one we couldn’t get the URL, or it was already taken. We wanted something that sounded active, and a little retro. We were coming off of our success at Rhino Entertainment, which was mainly a retro music business, and we thought that we would be a music, film and TV company. Shout! felt classic and then there’s the Isley Brothers song that everyone loves. We were going to be Shout! Entertainment then we had trouble getting that trademarked. We were told to add something to it to distinguish it so we came up with Factory.

MPN: And now tell us the Garson Foos backstory.

Foos: I grew up in Los Angeles, and went to college at U.C. Berkeley. I was entrepreneurial early on and started several cafes in Oakland with a friend. I realized that the restaurant  business wasn’t for me, and thought that maybe I’d like the entertainment business. I had worked at the Rhino Record Store that my brother owned in high school, and he had started the Rhino label years later. He gave me a paid internship at the label and my timing was great. Rhino was starting to take off, and I was able to learn the business and move up the ranks as the company expanded. I eventually became the EVP of marketing and one of the key executives. Richard and his partner Harold Bronson sold the company to Warner Music Group in 2001, and Richard decided to leave in 2002 and start another company. He asked me and our other partner Bob Emmer, who had been our head of BA at Rhino and later became an EVP of BA at Warner Music, to join him in his new venture. We started Shout in 2003, and over the years Richard has stepped out of the day to day of the business, and Bob and I are co-CEOs.

Shout! Factory Elevates Veteran Executive Gene Pao to EVP, Strategy and Digital

Shout! Factory on June 3 announced the promotion of longtime senior executive Gene Pao to EVP of strategy and digital. He reports to Shout founders and CEOs, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos.
Pao will continue to work closely with Foos on corporate development and strategy that supports Shout’s long-term growth, digital business and worldwide content distribution. His new position adds oversight of digital, streaming and channel distribution, marketing (live-action movies and series), and production. Areas reporting directly into Pao include AVOD and FAST channels distribution, digital sales, live-action movies and series marketing, and production and digital media.
Gene Pao

“Gene has led the growth of Shout TV and our digital business, and has made major contributions toward the strategic vision of the company. His extensive industry background and deep experience in television and digital across multiple content types make him perfectly suited for this elevated role,” Foos said in a statement. “We’re excited to announce changes that will help us to optimize our organizational structure. We’re shifting some reporting at the senior management level to organize by business verticals which will also provide more growth opportunity.”

“Our well-honed acquisition, curation, and promotional capabilities apply to entertainment content across all platforms, which give us an advantage over other companies in the fast-growing world of digital streaming,” Pao added.
Pao joined Shout! Factory in 2014 and most recently served as SVP of digital enterprises, a role in which he oversaw the launch and expansion of Shout’s digital streaming business. Pao also led the development of Shout! Factory TV, which launched in 2014 through Pluto TV and adRise (now Tubi). Over the years, he and his team added branded SVOD channels on Amazon Prime Channels and Roku Premium Channels, and secured distribution on all major AVOD platforms. Shout currently operates five FAST (free ad-supported TV) channels: Shout! Factory TV, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Channel, Johnny Carson TV, The Carol Burnett Show Channel, and TokuSHOUTsu (dedicated to the tokusatsu genre), with more in the works.
Before Shout, Pao served as GM of Biggest Loser Digital, a joint project between NBC Universal and Shine America; VP of marketing for the Golf Channel, part of NBC Sports; VP of new media and international development for FUEL; and VP of marketing and business development at Fox Interactive Media. Prior to that, he held strategy and business development roles at Disney and ESPN Media Networks.

Shout! Factory Names Steven Katz VP of Business Affairs

Steve Katz

Shout! Factory June 8 announced the appointment of Steven Katz to VP of Business Affairs. Katz will oversee the business and legal aspects of Shout’s film and television acquisitions, distribution, development, production, rights management and legal operations. The announcement was made by Shout founders and co-CEOs Bob Emmer and Garson Foos.

“As we embark on a year of growth across multiple business sectors, I am thrilled to welcome Steven on board as part of our growing team at Shout,” Emmer, to whom Katz reports, said in a statement. “He brings substantial experience in entertainment, licensing, distribution, and original productions. We look forward to Steven playing a major role in the company’s executive team.”

Katz joins Shout! Factory after 10 years at Kew Media Group and its predecessor Content Media Group as VP of Business & Legal Affairs. Prior to that, Katz was at Sidley & Austin, Endeavor, and several talent management companies.

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Shout! Factory Announces Original Roger Corman Documentary Series

Shout! Factory Dec. 17 announced that its filmed entertainment distribution and production arm, Shout! Studios, has partnered with China’s Ace Film HK Company and Friendship Films to produce “Corman’s Hollywood,” a new multi-part documentary series about the life and works of pop cinema director Roger Corman and his wife and business partner, Julie Corman.

Created, written, and co-produced by Ashley Sidaway and Robert Sidaway from Friendship Films, the 13-episode series explores the career odysseys of the Cormans, uncovers inside backstories on many popular Corman movies, and provides a candid portrait of a trailblazing indie filmmaking duo.

The series follows Shout! Factory and Ace Film HK Co.’s March acquisition of Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. Titles include Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids from the Deep, among others.

Filmed over four months in Los Angeles, “Corman’s Hollywood” draws on a filmography spanning seven decades. The series offers viewers access inside the Cormans’ cinematic universe and features extensive in-depth interviews.

Corman and his wife share stories and defining moments from their movies, recall talent and young filmmakers they mentored, as well as provide behind-the-scenes perspectives for the films they produced.

Corman, recipient of an honorary Oscar in 2009, produced more than 350 films and directed 60 others. He influenced a generation of Hollywood filmmakers and screen talent, including Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Harry Dean Stanton, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

Julie Corman worked with Demme, John Sayles, Catherine Hardwicke, Robert King, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Peter Billingsley, Jon Lovitz, and Mario Van Peebles, among others.  She was chair of the graduate film department at NYU.

“It has been a rewarding and emotional experience to share some of the great moments and memories from so many of our films over seven decades,” Roger and Julie Corman said in a statement. “We have been privileged to work as independents in Hollywood that in a way has allowed us to bring our stories to the screen for audiences around the world. Our hope is that audiences get as much pleasure and fun from this series as we had making these films.” 

Calling Corman one of the most “prolific” producers and directors in Hollywood, Shout’s founders and co-CEOs Bob Emmer and Garson Foos say his and Julie’s ingenuity and independent spirit resonate far beyond the silver screen and today’s entertainment industry.

“It’s important that their insights and stories continue for generations to come,” Emmer and Foos said.

Shout! Studios will distribute the series in North America across multiple formats. Red Sea Media is handling international sales, excluding Asia where Ace Film will handle distribution.