Vizio Appoints Former AMC Networks, Dish Exec VP of Network Partnerships

Consumer electronics company Vizio has appointed former AMC Networks and Dish executive Adam Gaynor VP of network partnerships.

In this role, Gaynor will help build direct relationships with networks across Vizio’s SmartCast platform and its advertiser-direct business unit Vizio Ads.

“Adam’s addition to the team represents Vizio’s continued focus and investment in driving the future of TV,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer at Vizio, said in a statement. “Not only does Adam have extensive experience working with networks, but he has been at the forefront of championing addressable advertising, going back to his previous efforts driving live linear addressable advertising at AMC Networks and Dish.”

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In addition to spearheading network relationships, Gaynor will be heavily involved in advancing Project Open Addressable Ready (Project OAR), a technology consortium led by Vizio and created to advance the development and deployment of a new, open standard for addressable advertising on connected TVs. The consortium recently announced live market trials with network partners such as Fox, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, E.W. Scripps and AMC Networks.

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“Vizio is building the next generation of home entertainment, powered by data and personalized consumer experiences,” Gaynor said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the team to advance VIZIO’s initiatives on the network and addressable front, enabling advertisers to deliver more precise messages to their intended audiences at the right time.”

Before joining Vizio, Gaynor was most recently VP of AMCN Agility, the data solutions sales team for AMC Networks. There, he created and oversaw the development and monetization of all advanced and data-driven TV advertising opportunities across the AMC Networks portfolio. He also served as VP, media sales and analytics for Dish Network, where he led the company’s media sales division, inclusive of all addressable, interactive, programmatic and OTT initiatives. Gaynor also held posts at Game Show Network, Comcast and CBS.

PBS Appoints Marketing VP

PBS Distribution has been appointed Tonya Harley VP of marketing.

Harley will lead marketing and communications, supporting multiple brands and businesses, with a focus on customer acquisition and retention strategies for the company’s direct-to-consumer subscription businesses — PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids, PBS Living and newly launched PBS Documentaries — on Prime Video Channels.

“Tonya is an Emmy-award winning marketing professional with a proven track record of successfully delivering results for clients that exceed expectations,” PBS Distribution co-president Andrea Downing said in a statement. “She brings keen analytical skills and experience across a wide range of industries, and her ability to create targeted and efficient media plans to drive acquisition across broadcast and digital platforms will support our key primary initiatives perfectly.”

Harley joins PBS Distribution from BCD Travel, where she led their hotel marketing team as the director of strategic marketing. She was responsible for building a modern brand identity, designing social media campaigns to drive engagement, and overseeing the creative development, social media, content development, sales training, and public relations to support product launches.

Prior to working for BCD Travel, Harley was a senior marketing strategist with Advito. During her five years there, she built a strategic vision for developing digital products to help clients reduce travel costs while building client retention and loyalty, and led a cross-functional team in creating the product strategy, positioning, and marketing plan to drive new business.

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Before joining Advito, she spent five years at Liberty Mutual Insurance, culminating in the role of manager of national advertising. She was responsible for more than $125 million in creative and media spend, focusing on the strategy and creative development of brand television, direct-response television, and digital and field marketing. Harley built the first-ever marketing portal for field sales agents to create brand consistency across the organization while helping agents leverage marketing tactics to boost sales.

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Early in her career, Harley’s experiences were rooted in client management at Argus Communications, where she developed omni-channel marketing campaigns for her clients. She saw her strategic recommendation come to life as a television ad that was nominated and won a National Academy of Arts & Sciences Emmy Award for “Outstanding Community or Public Service Single Spot” TV.

Former Fox Animation and Marvel Exec Grant Gish to Join ViacomCBS Adult Animation Unit

ViacomCBS announced Marvel Studios and former Fox Animation executive Grant Gish will lead its new adult animation unit as SVP of adult animation, entertainment and youth brands, overseeing linear and streaming animation, effective Aug. 31.

Gish joins ViacomCBS on the heels of its expansion into adult animation, driven by such shows as “South Park” and upcoming reimaginings such as Mike Judge’s “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “Jodie,” based on the classic MTV series “Daria.”

Gish helped develop the Emmy Award-winning animated series “Bob’s Burgers” and oversaw the Emmy-nominated “American Dad” during his tenure at Fox Animation. He joins ViacomCBS from Marvel Studios, where he launched the adult comedy and animation group within the former Marvel Television division. Gish spearheaded Marvel’s foray into half-hour comedy and adult animation with upcoming Hulu series “M.O.D.O.K.” and “Hit-Monkey.”

“Grant has incredible instincts and a supercharged passion for animation,” Nina L. Diaz, president of content and chief creative officer for ViacomCBS entertainment and youth group, said in a statement. “Along with his extraordinary reputation and impressive successes with some of the biggest hits in the genre, from ‘Bob’s Burgers’ to ‘American Dad’ — his vision is exactly what we’re looking for to lead our adult animation unit.”

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“I grew up on MTV’s Animation Studios content where I’d run home from school to watch ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ eating pretzels on my couch,” Gish said in a statement. “With access to such a vast library of IP that will enable us to break through the clutter coupled with the opportunity to create a fresh slate, I couldn’t be more excited to join the E&Y Group that’s growing in droves under Chris and Nina’s leadership.”

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“We are thrilled to have Grant lead our new adult animation unit as we expedite the rapid expansion of our adult animation content,” Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS entertainment and youth group, said in a statement. “Adult animation is an incredibly powerful asset that truly works on every platform and around the world. It’s also pandemic-proof, which is why we are reimaging many of our beloved iconic IPs, unlocking incredible value.”

Tubi Names Carolyn Forrest SVP, General Counsel

AVOD service Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, has named Carolyn Forrest SVP, general counsel.

Forrest moves into the new role from Fox Television Stations.

She reports to Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi, is based in San Francisco, and will serve as the company’s chief legal officer, overseeing its business affairs and legal team and advising on broad-ranging media law-related issues.

“Carolyn combines vast knowledge across the industry with a proven track record of guiding media companies with strategic IP legal oversight,” Massoudi said in a statement. “We’re thrilled she will be joining us at a key time for the company as we ramp up our global content and advertising initiatives.”

Forrest has worked as an in-house counsel for media companies for the past 28 years. Most recently, she served as VP of legal affairs for Fox Television Stations, where she was responsible for advising its 29 television stations on media law-related issues. Prior to joining Fox, she was VP and general counsel for New World Television, which Fox acquired in 1997, and she worked for NBC as an assistant general attorney. Prior to that, Forrest worked for Dow Lohnes & Albertson as an associate in the media litigation group and at the New York law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom as an associate in its corporate and M&A litigation group.

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Forrest is currently serving as the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law — previously serving as its chairperson and as a member of its Governing Committee. She also serves on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. Forrest is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University.

With total view time reaching 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi (www.tubi.tv) has more than 20,000 movies and television shows from every major Hollywood studio, according to the service.

Johannes Larcher to Head HBO Max International

WarnerMedia has named Johannes Larcher head of HBO Max International. He will join the company in August and report to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

Larcher will be responsible for the international rollout and management of the WarnerMedia subscription streaming service, which launched in the United States May 27. His first focus will be the launch in Latin America, which is expected in 2021, according to the company.

Larcher will work closely with Whit Richardson, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in Latin America, and Priya Dogra, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in EMEA and APAC.

Larcher currently serves as managing director of digital at MBC Group, the Middle East’s leading media company based in Dubai where he successfully transformed the group’s flagship digital product Shahid VIP into the world’s largest Arabic language video streaming service with more than 1.4 million subscribers. From 2016 to 2018, he was co-founder and CEO of SubVRsive in Austin, Texas, a virtual and augmented reality studio. From 2009 to 2013, he served Hulu as SVP, international, where he led the launch and initial growth phase of Hulu Japan. Earlier, Larcher was president and CEO of online video education start-up Academy123, sold to Discovery and served as GM International for paid search pioneer Overture Services until its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2003. Larcher started his career in 1995 at McKinsey in Los Angeles, where he served media, entertainment and technology clients. He holds an M.A. from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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“I got to know Johannes as a passionate entrepreneur,” Zeiler said in a statement. “His leadership skills, together with his strong direct-to-consumer and digital experience, international business foundations and tech expertise give him the perfect background to drive the growth of HBO Max beyond the United States.”

“Living at the crossroads of digital technology and content, I’m thrilled to help create unforgettable entertainment experiences for consumers in international markets and make HBO Max an indispensable streaming service around the world,” Larcher said in a statement.

FuboTV Names Simone Nardi CFO

Live streaming platform fuboTV has named Simone Nardi CFO.

Nardi is based in New York City and reports directly to CEO David Gandler.

As CFO, Nardi leads all financial operations and strategy for fuboTV. He joins the streaming platform as it prepares to uplist to a major stock exchange following its merger in April with FaceBank Group.

“Simone has already been instrumental in guiding fuboTV through our recent merger,” Gandler said in a statement. “With his deep experience managing finance and strategy for companies undergoing transformations in their business, Simone is an integral new member of fuboTV’s executive team.”

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“I’m extremely honored to join the outstanding team at fuboTV,” Nardi said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time to be joining a proven leader in the media industry at the forefront of the streaming revolution. I look forward to playing a key role as the company continues to expand, drive cost efficiencies and growth and focus on delivering shareholder value.”

Prior to joining fuboTV, Nardi served as SVP and CFO, international for lifestyle content producer Scripps Networks Interactive. In this role, Nardi was responsible for all finance and strategic planning for the company’s international business across Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. In this role, Nardi was also responsible for leading the company’s international program licensing business and coordinating branding, marketing, technical operations and digital outside of the United States. He was also a member of the board of directors of Scripps’ joint ventures with the BBC in the United Kingdom and with Corus Entertainment in Canada.

Previously, Nardi served as SVP and CFO for NBC Universal’s international channels and television production businesses where he helped build and grow the international TV production operation for NBC Universal, green-lighting and monetizing key franchises such as “Downton Abbey.” Previously, he served as CFO of NBC Universal’s business development division in New York, where he assumed a lead role in launching Hulu.

Nardi began his career with General Electric in Italy and the United States.

FuboTV merged with FaceBank Group in April 2020, combining fuboTV’s direct-to-consumer live TV streaming platform for cord-cutters with FaceBank’s technology-driven IP in sports, movies and live performances.

Sling TV Gets New Group President

Michael Schwimmer has been named group president of Sling TV, following the departure of Warren Schlichting, Dish Network Corp. announced.

Schwimmer, who returned to Dish in June 2019 to lead international business development and strategy, will report to Dish CEO Erik Carlson.

During his career at Dish, which began in 1996, Schwimmer led the company’s marketing, programming and media sales organizations and played a key role in launching the Dish International and DishLATINO brands. In addition to his work on Sling TV’s international business, he honed his over-the-top expertise at Fuse Media, where he served as president and CEO. In his new role, Schwimmer will be responsible for all aspects of the Sling TV business. He has also assumed responsibility for Dish Media Sales.

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Kevin Arrix, SVP, Dish Media Sales, will now report to Schwimmer, and will continue to be responsible for the company’s advertising sales, analytics and operations.

Vizio Appoints Former Nielsen Exec to Board

TV maker Vizio has appointed John R. Burbank as an independent member of its board of directors.

Burbank “brings years of experience in media, analytics, marketing and telecommunications that will help guide the company, and advise its management team to best leverage its TV and audio hardware as well as its SmartCast platform,” according to a Vizio press release.

“We’re excited to be able to invite John to Vizio’s board of directors,” Vizio’s chairman of the board, founder and CEO William Wang said in a statement. “John is an accomplished business leader and experienced board member in consumer marketing and advertising sectors. His extensive knowledge and expertise will add great value to our board, and Vizio will benefit from John’s insights and counsel.”

As president of strategy and corporate development for the Nielsen Co., Burbank led the research firm’s digital transformation, developing new data products with partners such as Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent. Prior to joining Nielsen, Burbank held senior leadership positions in consumer marketing at AOL, AT&T and the Procter & Gamble Co. Today, John advises startups in both in the United States and Israel and serves as an independent director of Entergy Corp. and a board member of Connecticut Public Radio and Television. He holds a B.A. in Russian History and an MBA, both from the University of Chicago.

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“I look forward to sharing my industry experience with Vizio’s board and top management,” Burbank said in a statement. “With a rapidly changing market dynamic and increased consumer demand, Vizio is well positioned to deliver significantly enhanced entertainment and lifestyle experiences through a smarter integration of technologies.”

Pluto TV Adds to Leadership Team

Pluto TV, the AVOD service owned by Viacom, has appointed Shampa Banerjee chief product officer and Scott Reich SVP of programming.

Banerjee will oversee the product roadmap, designing and developing the experience of users, distribution partners, content partners and advertisers, and will report to CEO Tom Ryan.

Reich will oversee and execute the programming strategy behind Pluto TV’s slate of content.

Shampa Banerjee

With more than 22 million monthly active viewers, Pluto TV includes 250-plus live and original channels and thousands of on-demand movies and television series in partnership with major TV networks, movie studios, publishers and digital media companies.

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Banerjee joins Pluto TV from Eros Digital at Eros International, the “Netflix for Bollywood,” where she grew the service from inception to 150 million global subscribers in 135 countries, according to the Pluto TV release. Prior to that, Banerjee worked for the social collaboration platform Socialtext. Banerjee also held positions as COO/VP engineering and product at Meevee (acquired by Live Universe), CTO at Ziff Davis Media, where she launched the first-ever social network for video gamers, and at AOL.

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“Shampa is a global product leader with deep experience in creating delightful experiences for consumers and rapid growth for the companies she helps lead,” said Ryan in a statement. “We are excited to welcome her to Pluto TV as we continue our mission to entertain the planet.”

Scott Reich

Reich was previously GM at Fullscreen Media, where he set the strategy for the company’s subscription service and managed all aspects of original scripted and unscripted original programming, content licensing, program planning, marketing, creative services, content operations and analytics. He was also previously VP, programming and original content at VEVO and held positions at FUSE, Concert.TV and VH1. He started his career at Magus Entertainment where he worked closely with the manager of the band Aerosmith.

“Scott’s diverse programming and management experience will be a great asset to Pluto TV,” said Ryan in a statement. “Pluto TV was created to solve the problem of what to watch. How, why and where we program our titles is what makes the Pluto experience one-of-a-kind, and it was important that we hired someone with experience in all aspects of content across all platforms.”

Amazon Video’s Greg Hart Leaves for Compass

Amazon Video executive Greg Hart has exited the online goliath to join real estate technology company Compass as chief product officer.

Hart was most recently VP of worldwide, Amazon Video, responsible for steering the global expansion of the company’s digital video offerings, leading Prime Video’s global business, product, engineering, marketing, distribution and sports rights teams.

Hart spent 23 years at Amazon, beginning his career in books and then moving on to product management roles in music, gaming, video, software and AI.

Last month, Amazon appointed Mike Hopkins, who previously headed Hulu before leaving to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television, SVP at Prime Video and Amazon Studios. Hart had reported to Hopkins.

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“Compass is unlike any other company in real estate or technology. The company truly views agents as customers and has made it their mission to provide these customers with services and software necessary to take their business to the next level in today’s digital economy,” said Hart in a statement. “This customer-first approach to product development has been central to my own career, so the opportunity to better serve this massive customer group is the natural next step for me.”

Reporting to Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, Hart will be responsible for driving all aspects of Compass’ integrated product offering.