WarnerMedia Unit Rooster Teeth Studios Hires Development Executives

WarnerMedia unit Rooster Teeth Studios Dec. 4 announced two new development hires. Senior unscripted television veteran Wayne Sampson joins the company as head of unscripted content, and scripted comedy executive Emily Hughes joins as manager of scripted content. The two will contribute to the studio’s growing slate of premium original content, which includes “gen:LOCK,” the Michael B. Jordan co-produced and voiced animated sci-fi series for HBO Max, and “Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy,” which is streaming now on Netflix. Sampson and Hughes report to Ryan Hall, head of Rooster Teeth Studios.

Rooster Teeth Studios original content partners also include Cartoon Network, Discovery and Outlier Society, and collaborations with Hasbro, ELEAGUE, Scholastic, DC and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

“Wayne has a proven track record of producing successful unscripted TV across many genres and is one of the most respected execs in the business,” Hall said in a statement. “Emily is a tremendous development executive and her years of experience working with the top names in comedy make her a perfect fit for the studio.”

Sampson brings more than 20 years of development, production and programming experience to Rooster Teeth Studios after stints at USA Network, Discovery, Spike TV, and Syfy. He began his career as the producer of “The Biggest Loser” and “The Ultimate Fighter,” and produced his first visual podcast show, “Joe Rogan Questions Everything.” In 2020 at USA and Syfy, Sampson created and produced “Straight Up Steve Austin,” and the number-one social interactive show in cable, “Opposite Worlds.” Sampson spearheaded Spike TV’s rebrand into diverse action-based content, including “1,000 Ways to Die,” “Deadliest Warrior,” “MANswers” and “Pros vs Joes.” Recently, as Discovery Channel’s program development head, Sampson developed “Airplane Repo” and “Dual Survivor.”

Hughes joins Rooster Teeth after working in television development and production at Broadway Video, where she was involved with shows “A.P. Bio,” “The Other Two,” “Miracle Workers,” and the upcoming series “Kenan” for NBC and “MacGruber” for Peacock. Emily was previously at New Form, the digital start-up backed by Discovery, ITV, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer, in TV and digital development, and she started her career at CAA in the TV lit and corporate communications departments.

HBO Max, Crunchyroll Partner for Anime on May 27 Launch

WarnerMedia’s pending SVOD platform HBO Max and sister company Crunchyroll, are teaming up to bring dubbed and subtitled anime on the platform when it launches on May 27.

Max subscribers will have access to 17 anime titles, including Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-(Director’s Cut), and Keep Your Hands off Eizouken alongside the Crunchyroll Original series In/Spectre. Additionally, Max subs have access to Crunchyroll’s catalog of 1000+ titles, including Rurouni Kenshin, KONOSUBA -God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!, Bungo Stray Dogs, Berserk, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Kill la Kill, Your Lie in April, ERASED, Kiznaiver, Schwarzes Marken, 91 Days, The Testament of Sister New Devil and Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers.

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WarnerMedia parent AT&T bought out Crunchyroll and Otter Media from The Chernin Group in 2013. Crunchyroll claims more than 60 million registered users and 2 million subscribers.  is available in more than 200 countries and territories and simultaneously translates simulcast series into eight languages around the world.

“This WarnerMedia family collaboration is bringing together an incredible collection of content with a passionate fandom and HBO Max is ‘tottemo ureshiii’ to expand the reach of this inventive artistry,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max, president, TNT, TBS, and truTV, said in a statement.

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WarnerMedia Absorbs AT&T’s Otter Media

WarnerMedia May 31 announced that Otter Media is being realigned under the WarnerMedia Entertainment group run by Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer business.

Otter Media was formed in 2014 by AT&T and The Chernin Group. Its properties include Fullscreen, a social media platform serving creators and brands; anime brand Crunchyroll; SVOD platform VRV; Rooster Teeth, a media and entertainment company serving the gaming community with a footprint of more than 40 million subscribers to its YouTube network, over 5 million monthly visitors to RoosterTeeth.com, and 2.5 million registered community members; a majority stake in Gunpowder & Sky, a digital- first studio; and minority stakes in Hello Sunshine, a cross- platform brand and content company for women founded with Reese Witherspoon, and Mars Reel, a media and lifestyle brand focused on telling authentic stories of top high school athletes through premium video content.

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The combination brings together WarnerMedia’s digital businesses of the company at a time when the organization’s new direct-to-consumer platform is being built with access to content from HBO, the WarnerMedia cable networks, Warner Bros., plus a robust slate of new original content.

Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves

Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media, will now also lead the development of the new WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer service, along with Otter’s existing brands and services.

He reports to Greenblatt. Andy Forssell, most recently COO of Otter Media and former CEO of Hulu, will move to the role of EVP and GM of the new streaming service reporting to Goncalves. Kevin Reilly, president, TBS/TNT/TruTV and CCO of direct-to-consumer, will remain in that position reporting to Greenblatt.

Brad Bentley, who was serving as the streaming service’s GM, informed the company that he would be leaving.

“As we continue to build out our new streaming business and realign WarnerMedia functions, this step will facilitate further scale and focus in our efforts to offer customers an engaging and compelling product experience,” John Stankey, CEO, WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

Goncalves joined Otter Media, as CEO last year. Through AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV, he served as CEO of digital brands and head of strategy and business development for AT&T where he helped the company navigate the rapid pace of change in a digital centric world.

Forssell currently serves as EVP and COO of Otter Media, as well as president of Fullscreen. He joined Otter from Fullscreen where he served as COO for several years, overseeing the company’s day-to-day operations, as well as leading technology and product development. Forssell has served in a number of CEO, COO and general management roles, at companies like Hulu and ShowYou, helping to define and evolve the world of streaming video from its infancy.

 

 

AT&T’s Hello Lab Originals Bows Three New Video Series

Hello Lab Originals, a joint venture between AT&T and Otter Media’s Fullscreen Media, Aug. 8 announced a slate of three original series streaming on the Internet.

Geared toward millennial and teen audiences, each series includes multiple points of story engagement, in addition to the scripted series, such as social media, companion vlogs and a podcast.

“Starter Pack” premieres Aug. 20 on Facebook Watch telling the story of a graduate of a prestigious art school turning her talent to an unexpected medium.

“Guilty Party” returns to YouTube Oct. 2 for the second series with a new storyline. Last season’s weekly vlogs return, joined by a new podcast series “Suspect”, where viewers can further immerse themselves in the world of true crime.

“The Bright Fight” centers around promoting online positivity and social responsibility. Digital media creators Scotty Sire, Nabela Noor and the Dobre Brothers use their reach to raise awareness for causes, including environmentalism, body positivity and cyber bullying. Content premieres on the digital creator’s social channels Oct. 16.

“With each of these shows, we’re talking about the realities of the connected generation’s daily life through humor, drama and empowering content,” Valerie Vargas, SVP, advertising and creative services, AT&T, said in a statement. “We hope viewers find a community within each of these shows that speaks to them and encourage each other to spread positivity and make constructive change in their own world.”

Maude Standish, VP of programming at Fullscreen, said the show’s content is increasing driven by viewer data seeking to avoid replicating content already on the Web.

“It’s important to remember that this kind of entertainment is a magic spell cast by us and completed by the audience,” said Standish. “They are critical to the success of all our programs.”

 

WarnerMedia Acquires Full Control of Otter Media

WarnerMedia has assumed control of Otter Media after corporate parent AT&T acquired The Chernin Group’s controlling stake in the joint venture. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AT&T and former Fox executive Peter Chernin founded Santa Monica, Calif.-based Otter Media in 2014 to develop direct-to-consumer subscription video and advertising business models.

The company claims a global audience of more than 93 million unique monthly consumers, with more than 75 billion video views projected this year. Additionally, Otter Media’s SVOD platforms have more than 2 million paying subscribers.

Otter Media subsidiaries include Ellation, a SVOD service provider with content offerings under the Crunchyroll and VRV brands, as well as digital media company Fullscreen and its Rooster Teeth brand. Otter also has ownership stakes in Gunpowder & Sky studio, as well as Hello Sunshine, a media company founded by Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon.

Otter Media will continue to run by Tony Goncalves, who was named CEO earlier this year. Goncalves reports to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.

“Working with Tony, we look to harness Otter’s expertise in feeding the passion of online audiences to augment our portfolio of digital assets and help us further engage, connect and entertain consumers around the globe,” Stankey said in a statement.

“With AT&T’s direct-to-consumer relationships, vast data and varied content, I believe they can accelerate Otter’s growth,” added Chernin. “The combination with WarnerMedia will create a new-era media company, serving customers with every type of content delivered through every possible distribution channel.”