Premiere Digital Expands With Connecticut Facility

Premiere Digital, a media services, distribution and aggregation, and SaaS technology solutions company, has announced the expansion of its facilities.

This expansion comes via a build-out of the Stamford, Conn., location of the recently acquired CMI Media Management, a media provisioning company in inflight entertainment.

In order to provide better solutions for both new and existing clients, Premiere has established more-streamlined operations globally with the Stamford facility, adding to existing facilities in Los Angeles and Bangalore, India, according to the company. The Stamford facility will augment its end-to-end business model with a technical operations staff that is ramping up to grow significantly, according to Premiere.

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The Stamford facility will continue to focus on inflight entertainment, while scaling Premiere’s media servicing and distribution operations with an emphasis on HDR servicing. The facility’s East Coast location also enables Premiere to be more accessible to its global clientele, providing reliable support for existing workflows, according to the company.

The facility’s transition will be under the guidance of Elizabeth Archer, director of mastering, who has relocated from the Los Angeles office and reports directly to COO A.J. Sauer. Archer is responsible for building the foundation of the facility’s operations and integrating its systems with Los Angeles’s processes and technologies.

“In this era of shrinking content exploitation windows and global expansion, turnaround times are measured in hours, not days or weeks, so it’s important that we have a distributed workforce and operations that chase the sun,” Sauer said in a statement. “By adding Stamford to our existing facility locations in Los Angeles and Bangalore, we can increase efficiencies in our workflows and better meet our clients’ global digital supply chain needs.”

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.

OTT.X Summit Panelists: Transactional VOD, Including PVOD, Here to Stay

Transactional VOD, or the digital rental or sale of titles, is here to stay — including the higher-priced COVID-induced newcomer PVOD — said panelists during the OTT.X spring summit.

“It’s still, if you actually include the declining physical part of the business, it’s still a $10 billion business,” said Fandango’s Cameron Douglas, who oversees transactional services FandangoNow and the recently acquired Vudu. “It also was the first year, last year, that you actually saw growth, combined physical and digital business en masse. So I absolutely think that there’s a continued appetite for consumers for transactional video whether it’s Blu-ray and DVD or TVOD.”

“It’s absolutely here to stay, and the reason for that is that is consumers cannot afford to sign up for every single subscription service that’s out there, and there’s no way that you can replicate the selection that’s available on transactional platforms,” added Jill Allen, SVP of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “It’s just ubiquitous. It’s on every platform. And if you want to watch a movie, you generally know that it’s available to rent or buy somewhere. And then in addition TVOD has various benefits in terms of the windows, too, getting the earlier window. So in the near term I see it continuing. Even though it’s definitely benefited from COVID, looking forward I see it still being a very vibrant, large business.”

Transactional services also offer a deeper library of content than subscription services, panelists noted.

“I don’t know how many pieces of content Peacock has or Netflix has but it’s relatively small compared to a transactional platform,” Douglas added. “I think Vudu, at last count, has 225,000 movies and TV shows. I promise you that even the biggest services on the subscription side have nothing that size library.”

Panelists, clockwise, from left top: Mike Gamboa of Roku, Thomas K. Arnold of Media Play News, Jill Allen of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Michelle Edelman of Premiere Digital, and Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow. (Screen shot courtesy of Marc Rashba)

The studio leap into premium VOD (PVOD), usually a $20 one-time rental, has been successful as well, panelists noted, with Premier Digital’s Michele Edelman saying that a friend had shared a story about watching a first-run film at home.

“She said, ‘I treated myself to a theatrical movie in my house,’” Edelman said. “’I’d just had dinner, and I watched Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.’ She said, ‘It was the best experience.’”

Edelman noted that “everyone’s screens are bigger,” making watching movies at home more theater-like.

“They’re creating this really great theatrical experience where they are,” she said.

Roku’s Mike Gamboa agreed.

“Consumers love new release movies,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, but I think they have been demanding the flexibility to watch either in theaters or at home. And I think from our perspective, the success of Trolls [World Tour on PVOD] and Scoob! [also on PVOD] kind of demonstrated that consumers love new-release movies at home, and the economics and technical infrastructure is in place to support that business model. So we do see opportunity and viability of PVOD and TVOD to support the new-release movies.”

Sony’s Allen, too, noted that PVOD produced changes in how the teams at the studio worked together.

“We’ve never collaborated so closely with our theatrical team,” she said.

Indeed, Douglas noted, PVOD titles were able to benefit from theatrical marketing as never before.

“I’m looking forward to a real PVOD title,” Douglas said. “We really haven’t had one. Premium VOD in its initial incarnation was meant to be a theatrical movie that has a short window to home entertainment. Because theaters haven’t really opened up yet, a real PVOD title is going to be the real test.”

With the windows shifting during the pandemic and studios experimenting with different windows and pricing, the calculus in how to release a title has become complex during the past year, Allen said.

“You now have to navigate around a whole new set of competitive windows and, internally, as a content provider, you have to look at when your content is going into other windows as well, too,” she said. “So it’s become a little bit more complex.”

Allen said she has to look at individual release plans for each of her studio’s own titles and also what windows the other studios’ titles are employing.

“You had Wonder Woman [1984] that had multiple new-release windows,” she noted. “If you’re competing against the third new-release window of that, is that now a big deal? So understanding the competitive landscape, very, very complex. Even within each studio, if you have a title that’s on a subscription service. If I have a Christmas-themed movie, and I have it available on an SVOD service, can I sell that movie right now?”

While new releases have been few and far between during the pandemic as the pipeline shrank to a trickle, TVOD services and studios leaned on catalog to fill the gap, panelists noted.

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“We’ve seen huge growth in [catalog] the last year because of the dearth of new release content,” Douglas said, adding the services have noticed “people rediscovering their favorites, collecting them, adding them to their library, including full series of television shows, where they’re buying almost the entire series of ‘Married With Children’ or ‘M*A*S*H’ or ‘The Office.’”

Sony, too, has been mining catalog while production slowed.

“It’s been our lives since COVID started,” Allen said.

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Indeed, consumers are responding by collecting digitally, noted Edelman.

“I just heard the other day, someone said, ‘I started building my digital library,’” she said. “’I now have in my library my absolute favorite films, and I’m buying them at these really discounted prices because it was worth it.'”

“It’s the best subscription service you could ever have,” added Douglas.

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.

Premiere Digital Appoints Andrew Buck EVP

Premiere Digital, the media services, distribution and technology solutions company, has appointed Andrew Buck EVP, based in Toronto.

Buck will be responsible for expanding the company’s distribution services and SaaS tools on a global level, including Storefront, the company’s flagship platform for managing global content and a SaaS tool that provides monitoring to both content owners and digital retailers around content avail management.

He reports to Michele Edelman, head of growth.

Most recently, Buck was CEO of Toronto- and Los Angeles-based Juice Worldwide — a company he co-founded in 2004 to focus on the digital distribution of film, TV and music content across the world’s top OTT platforms. As CEO for nearly 16 years, Buck was involved in all aspects of the company, from business development to sales and marketing, resulting in its 2015 acquisition by Los Angeles based Vubiquity, and then again in 2018 by Amdocs. As part of the newly formed Amdocs Media Division, Buck continued on as CEO of Juice until 2020.

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“Having a world-class team to expand our products and services is top priority,” Edelman said in a statement. “I could not be happier to have Andrew on the team as he brings a wealth of industry knowledge and relationships. As our company continues to hit a high note, continuing to expand our presence was critical and Andrew checked all the boxes.”

Over the last few months, Premiere has announced a number of expansion plans. In addition to hiring Buck, the company announced the acquisition of Stamford, Conn., based CMI and has established a presence in London with the addition of former Sony Pictures exec Abigail Hughes, VP of growth at EMEA.