Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Adds Two Execs

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, has added two senior film industry executives. Daniel Gagliardi will serve as SVP of business development and strategy for the Americas. Andrew Marshall joins the team as head of legal and commercial partnerships.

“Great tech on its own is not enough, its needs to be wrapped with great support from industry experts who fully understand the challenges our buyers and sellers face in their business today,” Ian McKee, Vuulr’s global CEO, said in a statement. “I’m really excited to have Daniel and Andrew onboard as we scale the business.”

Gagliardi will lead efforts to help further develop the company’s growing position as a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, using his extensive and recent experience as both a content buyer and seller.

“As the content seller who helped drive the global rollout of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, and others, I know first hand the need for quick, efficient and strategic content licensing,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “What excites me most about Vuulr is our ability to transform the business of content licensing, not only with such a large selection of content, but by also offering hyper-local/regional content to help channels and platforms of all types expand around the globe.”

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Prior to joining the Vuulr team, Gagliardi was head of content at Vudu, a Walmart company, where he was responsible for building and leading the content partnerships team. During his tenure, Vudu debuted its first original television series, its first original film, commissioned a dozen additional originals, and partnered with hundreds of content licensors, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, MGM and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. He also worked at Lionsgate where he was VP of worldwide television and digital distribution. In this role he built and led the company’s ad-supported licensing team, forging and overseeing deals with Hulu, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, Amazon and Crackle, among others.

Marshall has held positions at ESPN STAR Sports, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to join Vuulr as they pioneer the transformation of distribution and acquisition,” Marshall said in a statement. “Bringing the efficiencies of doing business online is a critical success factor for the industry as it transforms and the new normals emerge. Vuulr is on the leading edge of enabling this change which brings benefits to Buyers, Sellers and Audiences.”

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Marshall brings a deep understanding of the evolving legal, regulatory commercial landscape for media and entertainment companies, gained from working at leading industry players, according to a Vuulr press release. Marshall was previously general counsel and SVP of legal and business affairs at ESPN STAR Sports and a regional counsel for all lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia at The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on content licensing, including theatrical distribution, studio marketing and home entertainment. More recently, he was commercial director for Universal brand development, where he grew the character licensing business for NBCUniversal in Southeast Asia.

Vuulr launched in January 2019 as a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with content sellers worldwide, providing both with a platform to negotiate and transact directly and securely. The company connects buyers and distributors regardless of time zone or geography, providing an opportunity to access an always-on, diverse selection of mainstream and niche content.

The Vuulr online sales platform currently features content from producers and distributors across the globe, comprising more than 23,000 titles/135,000 hours, across more than 60 genres and 70 languages. Vuulr aims to slash the cost, effort, and time involved in doing transactions for the industry, and licensing transactions on Vuulr close, on average, in 10 days, according to the company.

Andrea Downing Promoted to President of PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution has promoted Andrea Downing to president.

She was previously co-president.

“PBS Distribution continues to serve as a leading for-profit distributor of public media content around the world, and under Downing’s leadership, the organization has successfully navigated a digital transformation,” according to the PBS announcement.

Downing is also being honored by Media Play News with its annual Fast Forward Award in the March issue.

A joint venture of PBS and GBH Boston, PBS Distribution offers consumers and educators more than 4,000 hours of factual, scripted and children’s programming, extending the reach beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system, stations and producers. During her tenure, Downing has helped to grow and diversify PBS Distribution’s portfolio of businesses, including the addition of six direct-to-consumer SVOD services.

In her new role as president, Downing will provide strategic, financial and operational leadership for PBS Distribution as the organization continues to expand the reach of public media content across digital platforms.

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“Andrea is an accomplished executive who has guided PBS Distribution’s path from a startup to a global company with far-reaching impact,” Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, said in a statement. “We are grateful for her ongoing leadership to ensure that PBSd continues to adapt, evolve and thrive in the modern media landscape.”

“Andrea has been instrumental in the organization’s extraordinary growth and success,” Jon Abbott, president and CEO of GBH, said in a statement. “As media has seen tectonic change, PBSd has innovated and evolved as a vital enterprise supporting the economics of our public media mission.”

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Prior to joining PBS Distribution, Downing served as VP of home entertainment and partnerships at PBS. She also previously worked as director of operations at Discovery.

Downing holds a B.A. in business, materials and logistics management from Michigan State University. She is a board member of PBS America and of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, as well as its CFO. Downing also serves on the advisory board for the DEG’s Canon Club and sits on the steering committee for its D2C Alliance.

Premiere Digital Appoints Ng CFO

Premiere Digital, a media services, distribution and technology solutions company, has appointed Pamela Ng CFO.

Pamela Ng

In her role, Ng will oversee all financial operations and guide business strategy in line with growth and risk management initiatives, spearheading efforts in data-driven decision making.

She reports to Mark Lazar, CEO.

“Pamela’s financial leadership and expertise in supporting top companies make her a perfect fit for Premiere Digital,” Lazar said in a statement. “She’s the best individual to take on our next wave of investment in new technologies and work with the management team to help us rapidly grow our business.”

Ng has experience driving revenue, profitability and operational efficiency at top technology and CPG companies. Prior to joining Premiere Digital, she served as CFO at Irwin Naturals, a provider of premium vitamins; VP of strategy at Beachbody, a leading fitness streaming and nutrition company; and GM of Teleflora’s SaaS e-commerce platform.

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“I am excited to step into the CFO role at Premiere Digital to help the company accelerate growth, and I look forward to working with the entire team to build on the company’s culture, momentum, and strong business and technology fundamentals,” Ng said in a statement.

Vubiquity Hires Frohlich, Promotes Smith

Vubiquity, a provider of software and services to communications and media companies, has promoted John Smith and hired Cheryl Frohlich on its studio sales team in North America.

Smith has been promoted to SVP of studio sales in North America. Frohlich has joined the company as VP of studio salesreporting to Smith.

Vubiquity is part of the Amdocs Media division of Amdocs.

“With over 20 years of industry experience, John is a well-respected leader whose deep knowledge of our business makes him ideal to guide our North American sales operations. This promotion is recognition of his many innovative contributions to our company,” said Raman Abrol, GM and chief commercial officer, Vubiquity and Amdocs Media, to whom Smith will report. “We are also thrilled that Cheryl is joining us and bringing her impressive expertise in media, entertainment and sales to the team.”

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Frohlich joins Vubiquity from Deluxe Entertainment Service Group, where she recently held the position of VP, global client strategy. Prior to that, she was the global VP of enterprise account management at Whip Media. In these roles, she partnered with accounts in the OTT space, such as YouTube, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Pokémon, and provided post-production and localization solutions.

UHD Alliance’s Mike Fidler Steps Down; Michael Zink Takes Over as President

Mike Fidler is stepping down as president of the UHD Alliance and is being replaced in the position by board chair Michael Zink, who will continue to serve as a spokesperson for the organization.

Mike Fidler

“I have had an exceptional time working with my counterparts in the industry that has been my life blood for over 40 years,” Fidler said in a statement. “It was my privilege to help advance the goals of the UHD Alliance in driving a premium home entertainment experience for consumers. Harnessing the power of the member companies to bring a unified message to market is always challenging and it has been incredibly rewarding to see the success we had with integrating Filmmaker Mode into the top CE brands and building the value of the Alliance for its member companies.”

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“Mike’s contributions to the Alliance and to initiatives such as Filmmaker Mode and Ultra HD Premium have been innumerable,” Zink said in a statement. “He’s brought a unique combination of industry knowledge, consumer understanding and leadership capabilities to the role that ideally suited him to guiding the organization through the development of initiatives that will benefit the industry and consumers for the foreseeable future. Mike’s efforts to expand the awareness of the UHDA and its initiatives with trade/retail associations (CEDIA, DTG, ProSource, HTSA, etc.), CE companies, consumers and the industry press were very successful. His efforts and counsel are greatly appreciated and will be missed by me and all the of UHDA member companies.”

The UHD Alliance — comprised of consumer electronics manufacturers, film and television studios, content distributors and technology companies — establishes performance requirements for resolution, high dynamic range, color and other video and audio attributes to promote the best possible 4K UHD with HDR experience. Home entertainment products, mobile devices and content meeting these certification requirements bear the UHDA’s Premium Logo marks.

Filmmaker Mode, introduced by the UHD Alliance in August 2019, is designed to reproduce content in the way the creator intended. It allows viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates, according to the Alliance.

OTT.X Promotes Eric Hanson to EVP

Trade organization OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association or EMA) has promoted Eric Hanson to EVP.

Hanson was previously VP of industry leadership.

Since joining the Association in 2018, Hanson has managed all activities and advocacy related to the digital supply chain, and in 2020 took on responsibility for the newly launched OTT.X Leadership Development Foundation, hosting its first summit that summer. In that same year, Hanson led the OTT.X Channels CIG’s initiative to launch its first Impact Awards.  In addition, Hanson is now responsible for managing all OTT.X Common Interest Groups, committees and councils and their work groups, projects and initiatives.

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“I am pleased to recognize the tremendous job Eric has done over the past three years — both the impact he has made in our industry’s supply chain as well as the instrumental role he’s played in the transition from EMA to OTT.X, broadening and expanding the Association’s focus and its membership,” Mark Fisher, president and CEO of OTT.X, said in a statement.

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Prior to joining OTT.X, Hanson was engaged in strategic planning, operations and process engineering work with Microsoft, Intel and Amazon. He was responsible for building and leading the content operation function for Xbox Live Video, launching the Xbox HD movie and television download service in 2006, and for build-out and management of the content operations function for Intel’s OnCue service.

Hanson has been active in industry engagement and standards since 2001 when he led the planning process for Microsoft’s media standards engagement and later oversaw Xbox’s representation in industry and standards groups including the EMA’s digital supply chain initiatives.

PBS Distribution’s Andrea Downing to Be Honored With Fourth Annual ‘Fast Forward’ Award

Media Play News Jan. 22 announced that Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, will receive the fourth annual Media Play Fast Forward Award, which honors people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

With more than 25 years’ experience in the home entertainment business, industry leader Downing is being honored for her exceptional, broad and groundbreaking role at PBS Distribution. She has led the evolution of the organization from a start-up focused on physical goods to a global distribution company of public media content around the world. Her focus on adapting to the media landscape has led to five subscription streaming channels — PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids, PBS Living, PBS Documentaries and PBS America (U.K.). In addition to licensing content on DVD and Blu-ray, she has also spearheaded the company’s move into transactional video-on-demand; subscription video-on-demand; theatrical releasing; and educational, non-theatrical, inflight and international program sales and co-productions.

“I am extremely honored to be recognized by Media Play News with the Media Play Fast Forward Award — particularly when I consider how many of my peers are doing incredible work in extraordinary times,” said Downing. “The home entertainment market has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, and we have all had to learn to pivot quickly and anticipate what will come next. But no one anticipated a global pandemic, and we have been tested mightily this past year.

“I also recognize that I would not have received the award without the incredible dedication and talent of the PBS Distribution team. I am so proud that they continuously pivot to face our challenges and opportunities and develop innovative ways to address and capitalize on them, all while supporting each other and maintaining our company values. It is an honor to lead this team each and every day and contribute to the public television system’s mission of giving voice to all Americans.”

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Last year, the Media Play Fast Forward Award went to Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In 2019, the award went to digital retailers Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow, Galen Smith of Redbox On Demand, Google Play Movies & TV’s Jonathan Zepp and the team at Apple iTunes. The previous year, the inaugural Media Play Fast Forward Award was shared by the Fox Innovation Lab and Movies Anywhere.

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The Media Play Fast Forward awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree. Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, was the first Visionary Award winner, back in 2002. Other honorees have included Sony Pictures’ Ben Feingold, Samsung’s Tim Baxter, and Walmart’s Louis Greth and Chris Nagelson.

Downing will be profiled in the March issue of Media Play News.

Whip Media Hires Former Fox Exec Sherry Brennan

Entertainment data and software company Whip Media has appointed Sherry Brennan EVP and GM of its licensing technology division.

In this newly created role, Brennan will lead the company’s development and go-to-market strategy of new offerings to improve how media companies license digital content globally. She reports to Rob Gardos, president of Whip Media.

Brennan has more than 30 years of experience in pay-TV, including nearly 15 years with Fox Networks where she focused on the distribution of Fox’s content in new and emerging platforms including Hulu, content protection, strategic research and optimizing Fox’s content strategy for the digital age.

“Whip Media is transforming TV and movie licensing by leveraging its first-party consumer sentiment data and sophisticated AI technology to optimize content monetization,” Gardos said in a statement. “Sherry’s vast experience in global content distribution and licensing will be invaluable as we deliver new products to the market to support that vision. I’m thrilled to welcome her to the team.”

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“After spending nearly 15 years at Fox negotiating hundreds of content licensing deals, I believe Whip Media is uniquely positioned to transform and future-proof global content licensing as business models continue to evolve,” Brennan said in a statement.

Prior to joining Fox, Brennan spent seven years at Cablevision focused on then-emerging VOD and digital TV, including content licensing, marketing and UI/UX. She began her career at Falcon Cable TV and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She is co-founder of a social platform for women over 40 (The Woolfer), as well as a Board Member for the Food Resource Action Committee (FRAC), a DC-based lobbying organization. She is based in Los Angeles.

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Whip Media through its content value management and data platform manages billions of financial transactions from more than 1,000 operators and OTT platforms around the world. Clients include Disney, Warner Bros., Hulu, NBCU, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate, BBC, HBO, AT&T, T-Mobile, Liberty Global, Discovery and Pluto TV.

Lionsgate’s Ron Schwartz Upped to Lead Motion Picture Group Distribution

In a nod to strong sales of catalog and other home-bound movies due to the pandemic, longtime home entertainment executive Ron Schwartz has been promoted to lead worldwide distribution for all content in the company’s Motion Picture Group.

Schwartz, who has overseen Lionsgate’s worldwide home entertainment business since 2014, is part of the Motion Picture Group restructuring into four verticals under chairman Joe Drake. The verticals are strategy and innovation, marketing, distribution, and content.

“Strengthening our company for the realities of a rapidly shifting marketplace has been priority one,” Drake said in a statement. “That transformation began well before this year, but the pandemic has accelerated these changes and spurred us to adapt and enhance our flexibility.”

Prior to taking on worldwide duties, Schwartz rose through the ranks of the company, first as EVP and GM of home entertainment operations, and then as president and GM of home entertainment sales and distribution. A 20-year veteran of the company, he has played an instrumental role in the growth of Lionsgate’s third-party distribution and library revenue.

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Jen Hollingsworth will continue as COO of the Motion Picture Group and expand her role to lead the strategy and innovation team. Damon Wolf will expand his global marketing and communications oversight to include all platforms and digital content releases as well as all theatrical and digital releases through the home entertainment window.

With scant theatrical distribution due to the pandemic, Lionsgate has leaned on library and premium VOD to drive fiscal operations this year. Total home entertainment revenue from disc and digital topped $150 million in the most-recent fiscal period. Through six months of the fiscal year, home entertainment revenue remains even at $317.4 million.

More importantly, packaged media, third-party licensing and transactional digital distribution of movies and television library content revenue topped $166.7 million, as library revenue for the trailing 12 months grew to a record $738.5 million, 33% higher than the previous trailing 12-month period.

Motion picture segment profit grew 63% to $83 million, from $51 million, on strong demand for library content and lower distribution and marketing costs due to the lack of theatrical commitments. Top PVOD releases in 2020 include period horror drama Antebellum and faith-based I Still Believe.

Kaleidescape Appoints New CEO

Luxury home cinema company Kaleidescape has appointed Tayloe Stansbury CEO, succeeding Cheena Srinivasan, who has served as CEO since 2014.

Srinivasan will remain with Kaleidescape as founder and EVP, focused on alliances and business development, including movie studio relationships.

In addition, Norma Garcia-Muro has joined Kaleidescape as VP of marketing.

“We are excited to have Tayloe’s expertise in product, technology, growth, and scale, and Norma’s expertise in cinema systems and movie marketing, to drive Kaleidescape’s growth,” Michael Malcolm, founder and chairman of Kaleidescape’s board of directors, said in a statement.

Stansbury, a longtime Kaleidescape customer, previously served as interim CEO of Watermark Insights, chief technology officer of Intuit, and EVP of product and operations at Ariba. He serves on a number of nonprofit, private, and public boards, including Coupa Software. He received his A.B. in applied mathematics from Harvard University.

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Garcia-Muro has a background in motion picture, home entertainment, and premium cinema technology. She helped launch Dolby Cinema worldwide and the premium cinema experience at THX. She previously was head of international marketing at Lucasfilm, where she oversaw strategy and positioning for the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, and as director at Paramount’s home entertainment arm.

“Tayloe’s proven leadership in technology and corporate stewardship, together with Norma’s background marketing iconic films and next-generation cinema technology, provide Kaleidescape with a strong synergy of tech and Hollywood,” Srinivasan said in a statement. “We are delighted to see them both take the lead as we launch this exciting new chapter in revolutionizing home entertainment with the finest cinema experience available.”

Kaleidescape is an online provider of films with full-fidelity audio and video for luxury home cinema. The company’s Internet-delivered movies include exclusive metadata for its movie players. Founded in 2001, and headquartered in California, Kaleidescape sells its products exclusively through custom integrators.