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Digital Drivers 2014: Independents


Chris McGurk, chairman and CEO, Cinedigm
McGurk is responsible for transitioning Cinedigm from digital theatrical screen provider to the largest multiplatform distributor of non-theatrical independent movies. McGurk spearheaded an eight-figure content license agreement with Netflix and oversaw the launch of a digital channel with comic book convention organizer Wizard World. He was the founder and CEO of Overture Films from 2006 until 2010, and also CEO of Anchor Bay Entertainment, which distributed Overture content to the home entertainment industry. From 1999 to 2005, McGurk was COO of MGM until the studio was sold to a consortium of investors.  

Bill Sondheim, president, Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Sondheim is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Cinedigm Entertainment Group. He became president of CEG when Cinedigm acquired Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment in 2013. Sondheim’s previous executive experience heading Sony Music Entertainment’s dual-disc technology in the mid-2000s is key to CEG expanding digital distribution to subscription streaming services, transactional VOD and digital sellthrough platforms.  

Yolanda MacÍas, EVP, acquisition, forecast, planning and digital sales, Cinedigm
Macías is responsible for sourcing, evaluating, negotiating and acquiring content from independent producers and studios for all distribution platforms, including digital. In addition, Macías, who came to Cinedigm when it acquired Gaiam Vivendi, also heads the digital video and television sales division and oversees the forecast, planning and analysis team.

Erick Opeka, EVP, digital networks, Cinedigm
Opeka directs the company’s content strategy, development and operations across multiple digital platforms, including cable TV, subscription and ad-supported video-on-demand, electronic sellthrough, TV and IPTV. Opeka has been responsible for growing the company to become the largest aggregator of digital content in North America.

Previously, he spearheaded New Video’s business development efforts, leading to the company’s selection as the first iTunes aggregation video partner.

Entertainment One

Rich Mallery, senior director, digital marketing and sales, Entertainment One
Mallery is charged with overseeing every aspect of eOne’s digital and on-demand business for both film and TV. Mallery focuses on building and developing relationships, strategies and opportunities within the ever-expanding digital landscape. Working in conjunction with eOne’s theatrical and international television teams, Mallery seeks out new digital initiatives and partnerships. Prior to transitioning to digital, Mallery served as director of marketing for eOne’s home entertainment division, where he managed the entire life cycle for all home video film and TV releases.


Brandan Lucas, VP, global digital sales, home entertainment group, HBO
Lucas is responsible for managing global client relationships and oversees the digital sales team worldwide. Lucas has over a decade of industry experience in digital and physical sales, most recently with Warner Home Entertainment as an executive director of sales.

Jeremy Strauss, VP, global digital distribution, home entertainment group, HBO
Strauss is responsible for identifying and executing digital distribution opportunities for the company’s original programming around the world. Prior to joining HBO, Strauss worked in the music industry in various roles, leading the effort to develop new models and offerings to encourage the legitimate consumption of digital music.

RLJ Entertainment

Mark Stevens,  president, Acorn Brands, RLJ Entertainment
Stevens oversees content development and acquisitions as well as the company’s new digital streaming service, Acorn TV. In just more than two years, the British TV streaming service has more than tripled the subscriber base with millions of website visits. It is also one of the most popular channels on Roku. Previously, Stevens was president of Acorn Media.


Michael Thornton, chief revenue officer, Starz
Thornton is responsible for revenue growth and affiliate distribution for the Starz Networks’ pay-television business and oversees the major Starz Distribution businesses (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Starz Worldwide Distribution and Starz Digital Media). Thornton is also responsible for programming acquisitions for the seventeen Starz channels, on-demand and online offerings.

Mara Winokur, SVP, digital, Starz Digital Media
Winokur oversees strategy, operation and execution of the digital businesses and initiatives supporting Starz’s various film, television and digital-only content properties. Winokur and her team manage digital distribution, licensing, syndication, content and vendor relationships across a wide array of partners and distributors ranging from traditional cable/satellite/telco multichannel video affiliates to internet/mobile distributors to game and social media developers/publishers to consumer electronics companies.

Jodi Robinson, VP, Internet and interactive technology, Starz
Robinson has been responsible for the technology direction and execution of the company’s TV Everywhere platform and client applications. The Play platform (Starz Play, Encore Play and Movieplex Play) enables authenticated access for the company’s premium video subscribers. Robinson also leads the company’s broader interactive television, advanced services development, and content protection efforts, including work with theatrical studios and multichannel video providers in support of the company’s subscription and transactional businesses.

Scott Barton, VP, digital and on-demand programming, Starz
Barton oversees the programming, product development, and promotion of Starz’s advanced services and digital products, including Starz.com, on demand, Starz Play, and other TV Everywhere services. Additionally, Barton plays a strategic role in the future development and implementation of new products and business opportunities across emerging platforms.

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