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Digital Drivers 2015 High-Level Strategists


Amazon Prime Instant Video

Led by Brad Beale and Michael Paull, Amazon is on the front lines of OTT video with its Prime Instant Video stream-ing service, which reportedly has 41 million members, and is nipping at market leader Netflix’s heels rolling out a series of innovations and original content. Last year, Amazon launched a streaming media device, the $99 Fire TV, which not only streams Prime Instant Video con-tent but also provides access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and other video services. Then, in October, Amazon unveiled a $39 stick-based streaming adapter for HDTVs, the Fire TV Stick, which plugs into the HDMI port on a TV set. Key Prime Instant Video drivers include Beale, VP of digital content acquisition, and Paull, VP of digital video.

The two helped secure a coveted license agreement with HBO for select catalog programming — the first SVOD agreement for the premium TV channel. This year, Paull pushed Prime to stream for free the entire first seasons of “Orphan Black” and Golden Globe-winning “Transparent” to attract new subscribers. “We saw an incredible response when we made ‘Transparent’ available to everyone, so we’re giving customers an opportunity to try out another great series that Prime members already love,” Paull said.


Hulu Plus

When Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins and Craig Erwich, SVP, head of content, gathered April 29 in New York City’s Ham-merstein ballroom with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, it was no laughing matter. The two were on stage to announce Hulu Plus’s upcoming slate of original programming as well herald exclusive rights to “Seinfeld,” beginning June 2, marking the first time the iconic sitcom would be available on SVOD. The upfront was a coronation of sorts for Hulu Plus and how it has evolved (more than 9 million subscribers) from third-wheel status behind Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Erwich, who cut his teeth greenlighting original program-ming at Warner Bros. Television, and former Fox TV executive Hopkins have a mandate from corporate parent 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch: Create a viable SVOD alternative to Netflix and Amazon. To do so, the duo took a page from Netflix’s playbook of rescuing critically acclaimed TV shows beyond their broadcast expiration by licensing from NBC Universal a fourth season of “The Mindy Project,” created by and starring Emmy-nominated writer-producer Mindy Kaling. Hulu’s other originals slate includes “11/22/63” from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams, starring James Franco; comedy “Dif-ficult People,” produced by Amy Poehler; “Casual,” a comedy from Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman; “The Way,” a drama series from Universal Television; and the first long-form project from Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team.



CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos continue to oversee Netflix’s global expansion, with the subscription streaming pioneer launching service in Australia and New Zealand, and a pending bow in Japan, among other territories. Sarandos, for his part, has ratcheted up spending and focus on original programming. The executive challenged the theatrical release window by co-producing, with The Weinstein Co., a sequel to 2000 Oscar winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for simultaneous theatrical/stream-ing launch in August. Netflix has a separate four-movie deal with Adam Sandler, including western comedy The Ridiculous 6. Sarandos also inked a deal with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company for a series of exclusive documentaries. Netflix and DiCaprio partnered on this year’s Oscar-nominated doc Virunga.


20th Century Fox

Dunn and Daily have been instrumental in establishing the digital sellthrough business with Digital HD. They have also helped lead the push for early digital release, adding value to digital ownership and helping grow the market. Dunn, worldwide president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, is not content to rest on his laurels. He is looking to future technologies, such as Ultra HD and virtual reality, investing in research and development through the Fox Innovation Lab.

Daily, president of worldwide marketing and chief marketing officer, leads a team that has won plaudits for innovative digital marketing. Using social media, Daily’s team has engaged fans in talking about Fox titles in fun and inventive new ways, linking the marketing of Digital HD with the sites consumers interact with most often. For X-Men: Days of Future Past campaign, Daily and her team won a Webby Award in the Social: Entertainment category and a Webby nomination in the Social: Best Writing category. For The Maze Runner campaign — in a first for a home entertainment division — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment won a Shorty Award, which honors the best of social media, for Best Brand on Snapchat.


Warner Bros. Entertainment

Able lieutenants under Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Gewecke and Sanders lead the way for Warner — as well as the industry — as content owners look to maximize value in digital delivery. Gewecke articulates and focuses the studio’s vision as chief digital officer and EVP, strategy and business development. He also oversees Warner Bros. Technical Operations and Corporate Business Development as well as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s direct-to-consumer, business development and Flixster groups. Flixster was the first site to support the buy-once-play-anywhere, cloud-based service UltraViolet. He’s been involved in the Rotten Tomatoes acquisition, a deal with SingTel and Sony Pictures TV for an Asian OTT video service, and the launch of Warner Archive, a service that makes “out of print” classic movie and TV titles available online and through manufacturing-on-demand.

In concert with Gewecke, Sanders, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, has helped make the studio’s content available for pur-chase through numerous digital retailer partners. Sand-ers oversees the digital transactional business (EST and VOD) and global distribution of Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. He is charged with the task of simplify-ing and promoting digital ownership growth, which has taken off over the past year with early digital release and simplification of the consumer interface on UltraViolet.

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