Q&A: Premiere Digital’s Michele Edelman Discusses the Company and Her Two Decades in Home Entertainment

Michele Edelman is head of growth at Premiere Digital, a media services and software solutions company. With more than 20 years of executive experience and extensive knowledge of home entertainment, Edelman has been at the forefront of an evolving OTT landscape, from launching TVOD/EST programs at Warner Bros., to spearheading VOD strategies at Vubiquity, to redefining distribution at Premiere Digital.

Before joining Premiere Digital, she served as EVP of marketing and content strategy at Vubiquity, where she oversaw global execution of cross-departmental marketing, corporate communications and creative strategy, as well as the management and merchandising of premium content. Prior to that, she was worldwide VP at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, where she oversaw a variety of departments, including direct-to-consumer marketing, digital distribution marketing, programming and acquisitions.  Her work includes sales and marketing campaigns for some of the world’s biggest studios, including ESPN, Disney and MTV Networks, as well as cross-industry initiatives to promote the growth of emerging digital formats. In October of 2019, Michele joined Premiere Digital to focus on the company’s mission of helping its customers monetize content and streamline operations, as well as on its vision of positioning itself for the ongoing future of digital distribution.

Media Play News asked Edelman about her company’s game plan and about the direction of a home entertainment industry she has been a part of for more than two decades.

MPN: Can you tell us about the history of Premiere Digital and what services it offers?

Edelman: Premiere Digital was founded in 2008 by Erik Anderson who was on the original iTunes video distribution team. We currently have three production facilities located in Los Angeles, Stamford, Conn., and Bangalore, India, and a satellite sales office in Toronto. Erik always had vision and realized the digital supply chain could be “smarter,” so he started Premiere Digital. 

Erik also happened to be my client while I was at Warner Bros. and when he called me to welcome me to Premiere his number came up with the Apple/iTunes co. I felt like I shot back 10 years while at the same time was moving ahead 10.

MPN: Premiere last year launched its first title The Wall. What’s the strategy for getting into content distribution, what other titles has Premiere launched and what others are in the works?

Edelman: The amount of content that does not make it to the marketplace is staggering. Tons of films and TV shows are made and never seen by an audience. We’re giving those projects a chance at making it to screens and aggregating on behalf of the content makers to the marketplace. This project started back in 2019 and The Wall was the first big one to date. We plan to do a number of these a year. One other successful TV show that was distributed by us was “The Chosen” that performed so well on digital platforms, the production company created a season two.

MPN: Premiere has been a champion for women in technology. What steps have you and the company taken to make it a welcoming environment for women and how does it affect company strategy?

Edelman: Premiere is a champion of people and many of them happen to be women. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m skirting the issue but we truly are champions of people and do our part to participate where the need is. For example, we go above and beyond in the social awareness category almost every month, changing our logos color to reflect a necessary cause and making donations where we can. LGBTQ+, Breast Cancer Awareness, Black History, Hispanic Heritage … the list goes on. WiTH is also part of this donation to support Women in Technology in Hollywood. So, to support your statement, we champion women, minorities and whoever needs additional support.

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MPN: As a home entertainment industry veteran, how do you see the evolution of the business, from its early days on VHS to disc to today’s business models What kind of smart tools do companies need to thrive in a constantly evolving digital ecosystem?

Edelman: I love this topic and feel proud to have been on the ground floor of the physical to digital entertainment shift. It was exciting to see how the industry pulled together and then the market just evolved as a result. It was the people that spearheaded it with the original transactional platforms … cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation and now today it’s pretty much all we know. What sensational times.

MPN: Speaking of this evolution, what kind of smart tools do companies need to thrive in a constantly evolving digital ecosystem?

Edelman: We probably need better tools that manage all assets whether they be video, artwork, languages, data, promos, even text in one location so that companies can build their assets for global distribution. We spend a lot of time looking for components in multiple locations so a central point that includes all asset elements would be the pie in the sky. An individual film title goes live globally with various languages, metadata, promotional assets and creative elements for advertising. Multiple teams develop and store assets in multiple locations. Multiple individuals have access for various reasons in multiple languages. A central location for everything would make everything easier for everyone.

Craig Seidel, Premiere Digital Top Winners in DEG’s Technology & Operations Awards

Craig Seidel of Pixelogic Media and Premiere Digital Services were among the top winners at the first-ever Technology & Operations Awards, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced April 28.

The new awards program, the trade group says, was created “to recognize exceptional technology accomplishments in the digital supply chain achieved by both companies and individuals.”

Seidel was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his work at former employer MovieLabs, where he led development of the MovieLabs Digital Distribution Framework, the suite of specifications that enable an automated digital supply chain among content providers, retailers/platforms, and service providers.

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Premiere Digital was honored with a People’s Choice award, voted on by attendees during the virtual awards show, with finalists in all categories eligible for the popular vote.

Awards were given out in five categories.

Bill Kotzman of Google and Dave Lindsay of Disney Streaming Services won Technology Leadership honors.

Jason Pena of Google and Kacy Boccumini of Sony Pictures Entertainment won for Technology Achievement.

And the Technology Innovation Award was split by Disney+, the Lionsgate Content Operations Team and Premiere Digital.

“DEG is so pleased to recognize the winners — and all the outstanding finalists — for the inaugural DEG TechOps Awards,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG. “As was noted by a number of senior industry executives and Oscar-winning director Pete Docter during the show, our TechOps community is the engine that drives delivery of premium content to consumers across the globe. Without these people, there would be no in-home entertainment as we know it.”

Premiere Digital was the official cocktail sponsor of the DEG TechOps Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Dolby. The Technology Innovation Award was presented by Whip Media. Video production was courtesy of creative content sponsor TiVo/DTS.

The show featured original music created by Ed “Special Ed” Archer, and a pitch for involvement in two organizations that are working to bolster technology education and career opportunities for underserved communities in Los Angeles, DIY Girls and Plug in South LA.

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

Jim Henson Company Launches Kids’ Series for Download on iTunes and Google Play

The Jim Henson Company, in partnership with Premiere Digital Services, has launched several of its children’s series on iTunes and Google Play for download in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Content includes seasons one and two of the language acquisition series “Word Party,” (U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia); season one of the animated series “Dot.,” created by Randi Zuckerberg (U.S. and U.K.); and the puppet series “Pajanimals,” “Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories” and “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss” (U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia). The classic Henson fantasy series “The Storyteller” and “The Storyteller: Greek Myths” are available for download in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia.

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“Partnering with Premiere Digital Services has allowed more beloved Jim Henson Company titles to be available to our fans than ever before,” said Jim Henson VP of global distribution Anna Moorefield. “Consumers can expect additional favorites as we continue to make our productions available to established and new audiences wherever and whenever they want to watch.”

“We are thrilled to partner with The Jim Henson Company and expand the reach of their timeless and iconic catalog in the transactional VOD space,” said head of Premiere business development Jeff Goldman. “Working together with The Jim Henson Company and our platform partners, we have the experience and relationships to bring these amazing shows starring some of the best-loved characters to fans of all ages around the world.”