For the 11th consecutive year, the editors of Multichannel News have selected a class of 40 executives in and around the multichannel-TV universe to bring to our readers’ attention. This year’s group includes impact-makers from such traditional sectors as cable networks, service providers and technology firms. Also honored are men and women from emerging categories such as over-the-top services and virtual MVPDs, as well as marketers, branding executives and members of the production community.
As always, each person in the 2016 class falls within the under-40 age demographic. And, as always, we welcome suggestions from readers as we look to shape the next list of industry up-and-comers.
This year’s “40 Under 40” biographies were compiled and written with help from Erica Stull and Laila Abuelhawa.
Engineering Fellow in the Chief Technology Office, Arris
Passionate about capacity planning, DOCSIS and keeping the cable industry competitive, Ayham Al-Banna works on defining the architecture for the cable-access modules of today and tomorrow. His work focuses on RF communications; hybrid fiber-coaxial networks architecture and migration; DOCSIS 3.1; and emerging broadband technologies. He holds 13 patents with many more pending, and wrote the book Interference in IEEE 802.11 WLANs: Characterization and Mitigation.
As a cable-industry educator and consultant, Al-Banna helps MSOs around the world with capacity planning, network migration to DOCSIS 3.1 and preparing for what comes after. He has delivered talks and moderated sessions at many major cable-industry conferences and events, as well as customer workshops. He was an early participant in the creation of DOCSIS 3.1 as a member of the Advanced MAC PHY Committee, which became the CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 Committee. He is currently engaged in creating future DOCSIS standards including Full Duplex DOCSIS and Extended-Spectrum DOCSIS.
What do you like best about your job? “Without a doubt, the innovation is what keeps me passionate about this industry today. The constant pace of technology evolution in our industry means that I get to work on new things just about every day.”
Senior Vice President, Public Relations, Altice USA
Following the announcement that Altice was acquiring Cablevision Systems, Lisa Anselmo helped lead communications for the transition. She was named senior VP of public relations after the sale was completed. As primary spokesperson, she now leads external communications for all of Altice USA.
Anselmo was previously VP of corporate communications for Cablevision. Before joining the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO in 2010, she was director of public affairs and communications at American Express, responsible for internal, external and executive communications activities for the company’s U.S. and Latin America Merchant Services Division, and the Risk, Information Management and Banking Group, respectively. She began her career at Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA. At Altria, she managed media-relations efforts related to tobacco litigation and legislation, as well as the company’s corporate reputation efforts.
Anselmo is involved with Guardians of Healing, a nonprofit that executes medical missions and provides healthcare and medical education at no cost to underserved communities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She graduated from Villanova University.
What do you like best about your job? “Learning from people who encourage collaboration and teamwork, and who care deeply about our customers.”
Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Fox Sports West, Fox Sports San Diego and Prime Ticket, Fox Sports
Lindsay Amstutz helps manage operations for three Fox Sports regional networks in Southern California, and serves as VP of marketing, overseeing marketing efforts for 22 Fox RSNs. In that role, she directs on-air promotion and consumer-marketing campaigns and supports advertising sales. Amstutz also managed digital strategies for Fox Sports social-media platforms and promotional campaigns for the Fox Sports GO app. She started the “Women of Fox Sports” internal initiative, represents Fox Sports on the Women’s Sports Foundation advisory board and works closely with Women in Sports & Entertainment. Before joining Fox, Amstutz was VP and C MO for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks . She joined the Sparks after two years with the NBA team marketing and business operations group as director, WNBA team business development. Previously, she was a sports and entertainment transactional associate for O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and worked in athletic marketing at Santa Clara University and Stanford University.
What do you like best about your job? “As my husband says, ‘I work in the toy department.’ I am grateful to work with great people on a product that people are so passionate about.”
Senior Vice President, Original Programming and Development, East Coast, Comedy Central
Sarah Babineau was a late adopter of American television. Her father worked for the U.S. government, and the family lived in Europe until she was 10. When she returned to the U.S., the multitude of English-language TV networks was a revelation.
Later, the Tufts graduate found a home in TV by way of documentaries and films. Her first gig was an internship with filmmaker Albert Maysles. Among her short-film productions was a dark comedy about a girl who says “I love you” every time she has an orgasm. She worked with boss Kent Alterman’s former company, DosTontos, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Four by Two Films. When Amazon began looking to break into original programming, Babineau was one of the first people hired. She played a key role in the Amazon launch, and was involved in such shows as Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. She joined Comedy Central in late 2014, where she has overseen development and production of all East Coast-based series, including Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City and — the highest-profile of all — The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.
What do you like best about your job? “Best part of my job is identifying and providing talent a platform to express their point of view and hopefully make the world laugh and think simultaneously.”
Vice President of Human Resources, Scripps Networks Interactive
Chris Barksdale supports the largest organization in the company. With his team of four, he supports the technology wing of Scripps Networks, with about 800 employees. Barksdale recently worked with the head of Scripps Digital on creating more than $40 million in revenue. After Scripps acquired Asian Food Channel in 2013, he moved to Singapore to help lead integration efforts and build its operation. He worked with the managing director on organizational design, hiring new staff and introducing culture and core human-resources programs. He began his SNI career as manager of workforce analytics, where he developed programs that have since been adopted more broadly within the industry. Before joining SNI, Barksdale was advanced specialist of compensation and rewards programs for DENSO Tennessee. Prior to that role, he specialized in global associate relations for DENSO Japan, where he was the youngest transplant to Japan in the company’s history.
What do you like best about your job? “During my SNI career, the highlight was watching the strategy and talent that we crafted and curated in our digital group take shape to return a profitable 2015 and continuing into 2016.”
Vice President of Digital, UP
An experienced digital and social-media strategist, Kendra Campbell- Milburn joined UP early this year with a successful track record of campaigns that engage audiences. She was previously executive director, social at digital marketing agency TVGLA. Her team developed the social package for feature film and television launches including Unbroken, Transparent and Bates Motel. Campbell-Milburn got her start as a key member of the brand marketing team at A&E, working on both traditional and new media and earning the network’s President’s Award. Over more than five years at A&E, Campbell-Milburn helped the network become a key player in digital by tackling ambitious initiatives like alternate reality games, augmented reality, apps and branded games. She also negotiated multiple media stunts such as the first-ever TV Guide logo redesign to celebrate the show Tattoo Highway, and the award-winning takeover of the homepage of The New York Times to support Fugitive Chronicles.
What do you like best about your job? “I love what UP stands for — the idea that positive entertainment about families can inspire people and change the world. That motivates me every day.”
Senior Vice President of Original Programming, TNT
As TNT’s senior vice president of original programming, Joey Chavez is helping to rebuild the network with a focus on premium, high-end content. He has spearheaded the development of Animal Kingdom and upcoming original shows The Alienist, Foreign Bodies, Civil and Claws. Before joining TNT, Chavez was VP of drama development at NBC. While there, he was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Gen List: 35 under 35” in 2012. He began his executive career in current programming at The WB, followed by positions at David Janollari Productions and Style/E! Networks, as well as TLC/Discovery Networks. He then returned to his first love, scripted television. Chavez graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in cinema-television from the University of Southern California as well as varied coursework at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is actively involved in organizations including Lambda Legal and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
What do you like best about your job? “Championing the best storytellers’ visions and being their partner for success, whether that’s idea generating, providing objective counsel, staunchly defending, creatively cheerleading or getting the hell out of the way.”
Director of Ad Sales Marketing, Crown Media Family Networks
Responsible for high-impact marketing and advertising campaigns for Crown Media Family Networks, Shelly Bayne also manages upfront marketing efforts and creates sponsorship solutions. In 2016, she orchestrated the Hallmark networks’ first-ever upfront event for the advertising community. Bayne regularly joins forces with the ad-sales team to increase share and CPM by offering innovative multiplatform solutions. She leads all ideation and execution for integrations within Crown Media programming. She was responsible for all aspects of Hallmark Channel’s partnership with Ford Warriors in Pink. The partnership included a first-ever “look book” for the network, with 100% of the proceeds from apparel purchases going to breast cancer charities. For the network’s third annual Kitten Bowl, the ad-sales marketing team locked in new advertisers for the network, driving a 77% CPM increase over primetime. She also is a co-lead of WICT’s mentoring circle program.
What do you like best about your job? “I love the company culture at Crown Media! We have a great office environment with talented, hardworking individuals who genuinely care about one another and the success of the company.”
Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Innovid
Nearly 10 years ago, in a small garage in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tal Chalozin scribbled an idea that he thought could change the way the world engaged with video, creating the technology behind interactive video. He founded Innovid in 2007, and received a U.S. patent for inserting interactive objects into video content in 2009. Chalozin leads Innovid’s long-term technology vision and is responsible for global technology development and implementation, product creation, business development and partnership activities. Under Chalozin’s guidance, Innovid has partnered with Facebook, Roku, Hulu and Snapchat to help advertisers bring interactive video to any consumer device. He was also named a “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum and one of the “Best Young European Entrepreneurs” by BusinessWeek. He has presented his work at LeWeb, Europe’s largest conference for digital innovation; South by Southwest; The Israel Conference; and several Interactive Advertising Bureau conferences, among others. Prior to Innovid, Chalozin co-founded the nonprofit GarageGeeks, one of Israel’s largest hacker spaces and innovation hubs with more than 8,000 members. He also served as an officer in an elite computer unit in the Israeli Air Force for more than eight years.
Vice President of Programming, Dish Network
Josh Clark manages a P&L in excess of $2 billion for Dish Network and Sling TV that includes key relationships with regional sports networks, cable channels and premium services. He joined Dish in 2012 as VP of digital programming, leading negotiations to secure digital rights for the Dish Anywhere app. He also collaborated with Dish’s partners to create a blueprint for OTT rights on Sling TV. In 2014, he led negotiations to secure digital programming rights from The Walt Disney Co. that laid the foundation for Sling TV’s personal subscription service and made Dish the first pay TV provider to secure rights to carry Disney, ABC and ESPN over-the-top. He also secured a landmark agreement for Sling TV’s beta multistream service with Fox Networks Group. He recently assumed leadership of Dish’s add-on packs. He was previously on the NBCUniversal affiliate-sales and digital business development teams. And he is a jazz musician and snowboarder.
What do you like best about your job? “Charlie Ergen’s decision to become a first mover in the OTT space gives my team an opportunity to work with our programming partners to develop a new choice for consumers.”
Senior Vice President, Head of Multiplatform Content, Revolt
Rahman Dukes oversees the REVOLT.tv editorial division, social-media department and all network content. He was instrumental in launching Revolt’s social-media platforms and website, and in creating The Gate and documentaries including Chicago Love, Justice 4 Flint, Baltimore Burning and MLK Now. This year, Dukes and the Revolt political team shaped the “REVOLT2Vote” initiative. Before Revolt, Dukes was at MTV for 17 years. He helped land on-air talent Sway Calloway, who partnered with him to build and cultivate MTV’s hip-hop foundation. He migrated to MTV News, where he created franchises including Hottest MCs in the Game. Dukes joined MTV full-time as a college sophomore, the youngest African-American to do so.
What do you like best about your job? “One of the best things about Revolt is the people that I work with. I have the opportunity to not only embark on history but to do so with some of the most brilliant minds I could ever surround myself with. We’re a tight unit, we move like family and have optimistic goals so there will be levels of us challenging each other, but at the end of the day we’re all going to win together. There’s no monetary value that can match that. It’s the ultimate feeling.”
Vice President of Development, Original Productions
Michelle Galster oversees Original Productions’s development of new content, partnerships with outside producers and production of creative materials, as well as casting new talent and creating strong relationships with networks. She has served as VP of development for just over a year, and in that time has sold development on six series and forged partnerships with companies such as Appian Way and Starfish Media. She joined Original Productions in 2007 as associate producer on the first season of History’s Ax Men. She quickly rose to supervising producer and eventually co-executive producer, and then launched The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man. Her experience spans genres from TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras to shows about knife salesmen, serial killers and home makeovers. Before joining Original Productions, Galster worked at Discovery Channel as development coordinator, and as programming coordinator for Discovery HD. She graduated cum laude from Elon University in 2003.
What do you like best about your job? “The ability to develop a wide variety of shows and formats, from docs about historical events, to game shows about pop culture, to docuseries about current trends. No project is the same, and that’s exciting.”
Vice President, Partnerships and Emerging Technology, Hulu
Noah Heller is VP of partnerships and emerging technology at Hulu, where he leads the company’s initiatives into strategic enterprise partnerships and new technologies like virtual reality. At 20, Heller founded his first startup, DNAi, working on WAP-based MMO technology. Following the sale of that company, he joined Microsoft as program manager and designer for social features of the original Xbox and Xbox Live. He is credited with several patents. Later, he joined Activision to work on the Call of Duty franchise, working on titles such as World at War and Black Ops. In 2012, Heller joined Atlas Venture as an entrepreneur in residence to work on new concepts. He bootstrapped a new startup, Vhoto, based on computer vision and machine learning technologies. It focused on revolutionizing video editing on-the-fly through the power of mobile device GPUs, received more than $5 million in venture-backed funding and reached more than 1.2 million users before it was sold to Hulu in late fall 2015.
What do you like best about your job? “Fast-paced change. In a given day, I might be producing VR content, finding media partners to distribute SVOD content, or working with startups to generate more subscribers.”
Senior Vice President, Business Planning & Performance, Altice USA
Following the completion of Altice’s acquisitions of Suddenlink and Cablevision, Justin Freesmeier was named senior vice president of business planning and performance. He now is responsible for developing and executing growth strategies, as well as operational planning and business performance management for Altice USA across 20 states. Before joining Altice USA, he was senior VP of sales and fiscal operations for Suddenlink, where he helped the company consistently achieve industry-leading annual customer and revenue growth. Freesmeier joined Suddenlink in 2005. In 2008, he was named VP of fiscal operations, responsible for financial planning and operational analysis. Prior to joining Suddenlink, he worked in regional operations at Charter in St. Louis. He holds an MBA from the University of Missouri-St Louis and a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College in Missouri.
What do you like best about your job? “Being a part of the dynamic, competitive and ever changing landscape of the telecommunications industry. It requires me to be agile and on my toes!”
Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing and Creative Services, TV One
Lori Hall develops and executes TV One’s marketing initiatives across all platforms. She manages all phases of marketing, including advertising and branding outreach efforts. Most recently, she spearheaded the network’s new brand look and promise with a creative overhaul of on- and off-air brand elements, including the new tagline, “REPRESENT.” Hall hails from UP, where she was VP of consumer marketing. She launched UP’s first-ever viral video, reaching 43 million social media views in less than a week, and oversaw the launch of Bringing Up Bates, which generated more than 8 million viewers in its first season. She also launched the highly successful Easter campaign to support the network’s premiere of The Passion of the Christ, the most-watched movie event in the network’s history. Before joining UP, Hall oversaw numerous successful marketing campaigns for Turner Entertainment Networks, including TBS’s Cougar Town and Men at Work, as well as Tyler Perry’s hit sitcoms For Better or Worse, House of Payne and Meet the Browns. Her TNT campaigns included efforts for hits Rizzoli and Isles and Hawthorne.
Senior Vice President of Original Programming, TBS
Thom Hinkle is responsible for original scripted comedy on TBS and serves as primary liaison with the studios that produce its scripted originals. He joined TBS in 2013, and has most recently been focused on developing original comedies in keeping with the network’s new brand. He helped make headlines by bringing The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee and Jason Jones to the network, for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee and The Detour. He was instrumental in hooking TBS up with Steve and Nancy Carell, who created the hit Angie Tribeca. Before joining TBS, he was co-president of Steve Carell’s Carousel Television. While there, he sold scripted comedy concepts to broadcast and cable outlets and helped secure development deals with NBC, 20th Century Fox and Universal Cable Productions. Hinkle began his career as a researcher at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and was a semifinalist at the Nintendo National Championships in 1990. Only his right armpit sweats.
What do you like best about your job? “I love the people I get to work with everyday. Most especially, Kevin Reilly, David Levy, Sandra Dewey and John Martin. They’re amazing geniuses who also smell wonderful and I’m thankful for their support.”
Vice President of Pricing and Analytics, Cox Communications
Martin Hinson’s responsibilities at Cox include all pricing, promotion and bundling strategy and analysis, as well as consumer insights/marketing research and advanced marketing analytics. He also oversees the campaign-management team’s targeted direct promotions and tactics, marketing ROI and performance measurement, and test-and-learn functions. Hinson’s team also develops analytical marketing metrics, tools and models to increase demand, revenue, and profit. Prior to joining Cox in 2011, Hinson was a principal at The Boston Consulting Group, where he was a core member of the marketing & sales and consumer goods practice areas. Hinson has also worked as a marketing and sales consultant at Deloitte Consulting and as an internal consultant for The Walt Disney Co. He holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering with highest honors from Georgia Tech, where he was a President’s Scholar.
What do you like best about your job? ”I enjoy the impact my role has on the financials and the future of the business and the diverse group of colleagues I work with.”
Senior Vice President, Product leadership, Nielsen
Jessica Hogue brings a passion for disruptive technologies and an understanding of digital measurements and marketplaces to her work. She oversees the rollout of Nielsen’s Total Audience measurement program. Previously, she led the company’s partnership with a key data partner. As a client business partner, she managed Nielsen’s relationship with one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. She joined Nielsen in 2007 through the acquisition of BuzzMetrics, later NM Incite, and was a part of the lead team that developed innovative social-measurement solutions. Her achievements in the sector led to hallmark studies, including the Power Moms Digital Influencer Study, which quantified the influence of bloggers and social enthusiasts. Hogue has spoken at WOMMA, ad:tech and iMedia Moms Connection. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Pepperdine University, a master’s of science from the Columbia School of Journalism and an executive MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute. She is an avid reader, running enthusiast and proud mother of two.
What do you like best about your job? “It’s a front row seat to the measurement transformation underway in our industry.”
Chief Marketing Officer, fuboTV
Alberto Horihuela is one of the cofounders and the chief marketing officer at fuboTV, one of the fastestgrowing virtual MVPDs in the U.S. His efforts to build the services subscriber base are paying off: As of March 2016, the company was at 40,000 subscribers and growing. The organization launched in January 2015. Prior to co-founding fuboTV, Horihuela was head of latin America for DramaFever, a streaming OTT network that brings international TV series, movies and concerts to audiences in the Americas. Recently acquired by Warner Bros., DramaFever’s second-largest region after the U.S. is latin America. He is a serial entrepreneur who also cofounded Primerad Network and Dokarta. Primerad, a digital video ad network, specializes in U.S. Hispanic markets, connecting brands to this audience via premium video publishers. Dokarta helped local Chicago dining, health and beauty businesses attract customers during slower business periods via hyper-local and real-time deals. Formerly, Horihuela was an economist and analyst with positions at Morgan Stanley and DeMatteo Monness. Horihuela is trilingual (English, Spanish and Portuguese) and graduated from the University of Chicago in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.
Vice President of Product Development, Evolution Digital
Eric Hybertson has been instrumental in Evolution Digital’s product development and strategy. He has inspired a team of engineers to develop CPE hardware and software, as well as IP Video platform hardware and software. The team has been instrumental in growing Evolution Digital’s set-top-box business in both market position and reach. The team recently developed the eBOX IP Hybrid STB, which will be deployed by WideOpenWest and by NCTC members. Hybertson developed Evolution’s new eVUE-TV IP Video Platform to provide cable operators with a fully integrated and managed IP linear and VOD platform. He oversaw the development of software and hardware products on hybrid and 4K STBs deployed internationally, including Mexico and the Caribbean. Hybertson also developed software and hardware for Comcast’s leave-behind wall-mounted devices, as well as the Rovi and TiVo DTA guide for Tier-2 and 3 MSOs. Prior to joining Evolution, Hybertson was director of rendering devices with Time Warner Cable and director of customer service for ADB. At Solekai Systems, he delivered consulting services to accelerate U.S. cable OEM technology delivery. He began his career at Harmonic as a senior hardware engineer.
Senior Vice President, Research and Insights, Bravo and Oxygen Media
Dave Kaplan oversees all phases of research for Bravo and Oxygen Media. He is responsible for qualitative and quantitative studies, as well as metrics and analytics related to viewer behaviors across all platforms. Kaplan advises and works with leadership on brand strategies to achieve business growth for both networks. Since joining Bravo in 2011 as VP of ad sales research, Kaplan has driven initiatives on multiscreen viewing habits and TV audience loyalty, as well as an ARF Award-winning study on Total Advertiser ROI. He also pioneered multiple groundbreaking partnerships with new data companies including TiVo Research, Civis Analytics and Symphony AM. He expanded his duties in 2013 to include oversight of Oxygen Media and led the research strategy behind the network’s rebrand targeting young, multicultural women. Prior to Bravo, Kaplan was senior VP of product leadership at Nielsen.
What do you like best about your job? “It’s the breadth of impact. I’ll be wearing a marketing hat in one meeting and switch to a programming or monetization one in the next. Forget about no day is the same; try no hour is the same.”
Vice President of Development, Jupiter Entertainment
Based in New York, Harrison Land oversees Jupiter Entertainment’s fast-growing development department. He has successfully developed and sold hit series for multiple networks such as TV One, Food Network, Investigation Discovery and FYI. This year alone, he has sold three series — Murder Chose Me and Enquiring Minds, both to ID, and #Murder to TV One — plus an untitled ABC special and a GSN pilot, The Investigation. Land also maintains strong relationships with influential agents, network executives and producers. His business background, paired with his drive and passion for quality content, has led to numerous strategic partnerships — including with Random House Studios, Robin Roberts’s production company and American Media — and the sale of an original format into the United Kingdom. Land launched the New York office for Jupiter and has helped its expansion into as a highly visible, go-to production company with key, targeted networks.
What do you like best about your job? “Working with Jupiter’s amazing team to create entertaining and compelling stories. It certainly beats having a real job.”
Head of Business Development, The Virtual Reality Co.
Andre Johnson oversees The Virtual Reality Co.’s strategies and initiatives by bringing together key talent and opportunities to create must-see VR content. The son of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, he joined VRC in early 2015 after many years with Magic Johnson Enterprises. As executive VP, he oversaw day-to-day operations, growth and profit strategy, and tie-ins to the Magic Johnson Foundation. He helped develop such MJE ventures as 24 Hour Magic Sports Clubs, Starbucks, Best Buy and Burger King , as well as TV network Aspire and Bridgescape, which provides at-risk urban students a chance to earn their high-school diploma in a way suitable to lifestyle, scheduling and learning needs. During his long run at MJE, he managed various businesses in the company’s hospitality unit and was the primary deal broker of the sale of Johnson’s equity stake in the Los Angeles Lakers. He began his career in A&R at Elektra Records, working with Jay Z, Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani.
What do you like best about your job? “I love working in virtual reality because we can take our audience on an immersive journey through worlds and stories, so there is an emotional connection.”
Vice President of Finance and Business Operations, Cox Media
Sarah Knott joined the advertising sales division of Cox in 2015, where she leads all financial and business operations and is responsible for strategic financial analysis and driving business results for Cox Media. She’s also the financial lead for Cox’s interest in National Cable Communications and financial liaison to Canoe Ventures. Knott joined Cox on the external reporting team, responsible for SEC reporting while the company was public, and helped take Cox private in 2004. Knott is a CPA with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of Richmond. She is a member of WICT and has been a mentor in various Cox Enterprises mentoring programs. Outside of work, she is a leader on the Finance Council at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church. She and her husband have three children and spend most of their free time on the sidelines at soccer and baseball fields.
What do you like best about your job? “The people. The opportunity to work with people committed to the goals of the company and committed to each other. The opportunity to have a measurable impact on the business and to grow as a leader and as a person.”
Head of Half-Hour Programming, Amazon Studios
Since joining Amazon Studios in 2012 as the original TV division’s first hire, Joe Lewis has been essential to the growth of Amazon Video. He runs half-hour programming, which includes increasing numbers of comedy, dramedy and documentary series. He led Amazon’s first pilot slate, which included the company’s first original series, Alpha House and Betas. In 2014, Lewis oversaw the critically acclaimed and award-winning original series Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, plus two additional slates of pilots. He has spoken at the Paley Center, MIPTV and the Banff World Media Festival and has testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Prior to Amazon Studios, Lewis was the CEO of Bark, a streaming television startup; director of production at 20th Century Fox; and manager of development at Comedy Central, where he was involved in the creation of Tosh.0.
What do you like best about your job? “It’s hard to imagine a position that puts me in contact with more brilliantly smart and creative people from such a wide array of disciplines. Most of all, I like that I get to live slightly in the future and have a small chance, through storytelling, of changing the world for the better.”
Chief Brand Officer, WWE
A female executive in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Stephanie McMahon began her career with WWE as an account executive. Prior to being named chief brand officer, she was executive VP, creative and was responsible for overseeing the digital and creative departments, as well as the creative development of all WWE TV, PPV, print, digital and social-media content. She has also managed WWE’s talent relations, talent brand management and live-events businesses. She was named to the WWE board in 2015. In 2014, McMahon and her husband established Connor’s Cure, a fund dedicated to pediatric cancer research. In 2015, she was one of nine U.S. leaders tapped for the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship, an international leadership exchange program for outstanding professionals chaired by Gen. Colin Powell. McMahon, the daughter of WWE chairman/CEO Vince McMahon, was recognized as a “Wonder Woman” by Multichannel News this year and was named to Variety’s second annual “Digital Entertainment Impact list: 30 Execs to Watch,” among many honors.
What do you like best about your job? “The opportunity to engage with the families who watch our programming and see the smiles on their faces as we create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Vice President, Products and Strategy, Guavus
With nearly 20 years of experience in cable and telecom, Chris Menier has furthered the adoption of operational analytics that help transform service operations and customer care functions. He partners with service providers to gather a comprehensive, accurate and current picture of the customer and to measure customer experience. Previously, he led Guavus’s cable sales, helping to land seven of the top 10 cable operators. Under his watch, the company recently joined the RDK Community as a licensee, extending its analytics applications to help operators combine data collected from RDK set-top boxes, gateways and other devices with operator network data and customer interaction data. Before joining Guavus, Menier led the cable sales team in North America for Netezza. Before that, he was VP of global channel sales for Genband. Menier is a frequent industry speaker and published author.
What do you like best about your job? “Every day, I learn something new; I have the chance to work with both world-class colleagues who are innovating analytics solutions and directly with our CSP customers who are implementing those solutions to improve the customer experience for subscribers.”
Senior Director, Product Management, Layer3 TV
Angela Mitchell is working to redefine the way viewers watch TV, at layer3 TV. She joined the effort 18 months ago. Over her 15-year career, Mitchell has developed IP and VOD delivery systems for Starz, Centurylink, Piksel and Charter. While at Centurylink, Mitchell and her colleagues were awarded dual patents for designing a new method of distributing media between wireless digital video recorders and supporting interaction between elevision viewers via IP messaging to set top boxes. She then led international licensing and content application efforts for a hybrid OTT video delivery service for Sezmi (now Piksel). While at Charter, Mitchell launched live streaming, VOD and download-to-go features for mobile applications and initiated Charter’s first foray onto OTT platforms. Mitchell holds a master’s degree in IT and is an active member of WICT and the Rocky Mountain Cable Association.
What do you like best about your job? “To play a part in making cable history with the first new cable company in over a decade! We are not only changing the way customers feel about this sector but revolutionizing cable distribution.”
Vice President of Sales Pricing, Planning and Operations, INSP
As the VP of sales pricing, planning & operations for INSP, Shawn Nicholson directs the commercial short and long-form sales operational policies, initiatives, proposals and agency marketing-related activities. Nicholson was INSP’s first director of sales operations. Largely because of his efforts, INSP has continued to experience unprecedented commercial sales growth. In 2015, his first year overseeing pricing and planning, the network’s commercial sales revenue increased by 50%. Nicholson is a member of the American Advertising Federation and the Cambridge Who’s Who. He is a passionate volunteer, donating his time and expertise to several organizations and individuals in the faith-and-family community.
What do you like best about your job? “We are in a fascinating time in the media industry. Never before has content been so available and viewed on so many devices. Content must be relevant to the viewer or they’ll just pass it by. We’re fortunate at INSP as our content is relevant to millions of viewers. My job at INSP is to effectively price and plan our ad inventory so that we can assist more national brands in achieving their marketing initiatives. I’m also honored to work with one of the best sales teams in the business.”
Editor in Chief of espnW, ESPN
Alison Overholt develops content strategies for espnW and oversees ESPN’s multiplatform enterprise content. She returned to the company in 2014 after working there from 2005-2010 as general editor, sports business and lifestyle for ESPN the Magazine, and senior editor, special projects. In 2009, Overholt was part of ESPN’s early efforts to develop a sports media offering for women and was espnW’s founding editor. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Fast Company. Her writing has also appeared in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and O: The Oprah Magazine. In 2011, she launched her own digital content strategy company, 183Ink, LL C. Overholt is also an adjunct professor at NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. She received the AAJA National Print Journalism Award for her writing in Fast Company and edited ESPN the Magazine stories that earned the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award and New York Press Club Awards for Journalism.
What do you like best about your job? “The people I work with are the most energetic, driven, demanding, curious, all-in group I’ve ever encountered. They’re never satisfied — which is actually what makes this job so incredibly satisfying.”
Senior Vice President of Distribution, AMC Networks
As senior VP of distribution since 2014, Josh Reader negotiates multiplatform content licensing agreements and directs affiliate marketing for AMC Networks’s channels, AMC, BBC America, BBC World News, IFC, SundanceTV and WEtv, as well as IFC Films. With a primary focus on advanced service offerings, he negotiates cable, satellite and telco carriage renewals; virtual MVPD linear streaming and ancillary distribution deals; as well as TV everywhere, set-top-box VOD, subscription VOD, transactional VOD and electronic sell-through. He advises on the strategic development and implementation of multiplatform dynamic ad insertion and authenticated website and application development. He has also been a critical player in AMC Networks’ strategic investments, including the BBC America joint venture with BBC Worldwide. He joined AMC Networks in 2011. Earlier he was an associate with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
What do you like best about your job? “The distribution of networks and content has become increasingly complex in an ever-changing landscape, but I love working with smart, talented colleagues to find creative solutions to our concerns and continue to fund the creation of great content.”
Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, 3 Ball Entertainment
Since joining 3 Ball Entertainment (then 3 Ball Productions) as an editor in 2004, DJ Nurre has enjoyed a spectacular rise, advancing over 12 years to his current role as executive VP, programming and development. He now focuses on the creation of IP for broadcast, cable, digital and OTT, and manages 3 Ball’s growing casting and development team. A seasoned showrunner, Nurre has championed some of 3 Ball’s highest-rated and longest-running series, including Spike’s megahit Bar Rescue, Hungry Investor, Catch a Contractor and Flying Wild Alaska, which ran for three seasons on Discovery Channel. He oversees such shows as My Cat From Hell (Animal Planet), LA Hair (WE tv) and Kingin’ With Tyga (MTV). Other credits as a producer and finishing editor include The Biggest Loser, MasterChef, Beauty and the Geek, Breaking Bonaduce and For Love or Money. He was a PROMAX award-winning promotions editor while at The WB.
What do you like best about your job? “Every new show is a learning opportunity, taught by those at the top of their game. I’ve been fortunate to learn football from hall of famers, food from James Beard Award recipients and music from Grammy winners.”
Vice President, Development and Programming, E!
Known as a tough, smart and passionate creative executive who gets things done, Leela Pon has a keen eye for concepts and characters. She oversees development and series production on numerous E! shows, including Botched and its upcoming spinoffs Botched by Nature and Botched Post-Op. She also developed E!’s popular franchise #RichKids of Beverly Hills, among others. During her nine years at E!, Pon has also led development on the two-hour Britney Spears documentary I Am Britney Jean and the first internationally televised gay wedding, Lance Loves Michael. She also oversees a robust pipeline of more than 25 new development projects, many of which she and her team developed from their internal ideas. Pon joined E! in 2007. She began her career at Mosaic and then moved to 20th Century Fox. At The CW, she worked on Top Model and Beauty and The Geek, as well as on the development and launch of The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll.
What do you like best about your job? “I love being able to work with some of the smartest and most passionate people I have ever met both inside NBCUniversal and across the industry. It motivates me every day.”
Senior Vice President for Original Programming, Starz
When Ken Segna was growing up outside of Sacramento, Calif., his mother and father would allow him and his younger brother Brian to watch only one hour of TV a week. He jokes that his parents “were a little confused” when both Segna boys became TV executives. (Brian is at ITV Studios America.) The Stanford graduate’s circuitous path included producing commercials, music videos and a documentary, Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, before landing on a desk at CAA. In 2010, Segna moved to Starz, where he rose quickly from executive assistant to senior VP of original programming. Segna has been involved in Power, the most-watched drama in Starz’s history, as well as Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming anthology series, The Girlfriend Experience, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Alejandro G. Inarritu’s TV drama, The One Percent. Based in the company’s Beverly Hills, Calif., office, Segna will continue to take the lead on new development and current productions including Power and Survivor’s Remorse. He will also manage the production of Counterpart, a supernatural thriller drama series starring Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), with Morten Tyldum (Imitation Game) set to direct the first two episodes.
Executive Vice President, Business Development & International, ITV America
Ed Simpson leads business development, corporate strategy and international across ITV America’s various production companies. He also oversees the group’s branded entertainment initiatives, and is charged with monetizing existing rights, establishing new revenue streams and developing third-party relationships and co-productions. He transitioned to ITV America in 2016 via its 2015 acquisition of Leftfield Entertainment. He joined LFE in 2012 and was instrumental in evolving its mergers and acquisitions strategy, most recently as senior VP, business development & international, and spearheaded LFE’s move into the international arena with local formats. The company currently produces Pawn Stars in the U.K. and Australia and the series Alone in Norway (which also airs on History in the U.S.). Simpson oversees additional acquisitions for ITV America, as well as several overall and first-look deals, expanding the company’s third-party relationships and co-production footprint.
What do you like best about your job? “The constant adventure and creating opportunities that will, in a small way, help shape our industry for the next chapter.”
Vice President, Research and Insights, BBC America
As head of research for BBC America, Courtney Thomasma has quickly become a trusted and influential adviser to network department chiefs and AMC Networks leadership. Her team is a resource for critical insights that guide major marketing, sales, programming and scheduling decisions. After graduate school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she participated in Nielsen’s prestigious leadership development program and went on to join Nielsen’s core business, where she handled Sony, PBS and BBC America. She eventually became lead on Discovery. Thomasma was then assigned to Auckland, New Zealand — her first international professional experience and her first foray into management. She moved from Nielsen to SundanceTV, where she helped prepare the network from a research perspective for its transition to an ad-supported model. A few years later, she segued to BBC America. Originally from Detroit, Thomasma is very active in the nonprofit Born and Raised Detroit.
What do you like best about your job? “On any given day, I may be operating as a programmer, marketer, publicist, sales strategist, etc. The exposure to different disciplines and people is continually inspiring.”
Director of Enterprise Architecture, Shaw Communications
With more than 20 years of experience developing emerging technologies in wireline and wireless telecommunications, Matt White oversees architecture across the entire Shaw Communications organization, including cable, cellular, satellite, WiFi and national fiber networks. He manages a growing innovation team in Denver that develops emerging consumer and business technologies and translates them into products. Prior to Shaw, White led development of IP video technologies at CableLabs, including multicast-assisted adaptive bit rate. Before that, he led the push to all-IP video at Rogers Communications. White is currently regional chair of the IEEE, an associate board member for the Rocky Mountain chapter of the SCTE and a passionate volunteer for the U.S. First Robotics program. He and his wife Amanda operate The White Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit that raises funds to support orphanages in Kigali, Rwanda, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
What do you like best about your job? “What I love about Shaw are the people and culture. Shaw maintains a warm and inviting atmosphere that it has preserved as it has grown from a small family-run business into a large enterprise over the past 50 years.”
Senior Vice President, Hardware Development, Comcast Cable
Since joining Comcast in 2014, Fraser Stirling has been an integral part of the technology and product leadership team and a key global technology ambassador for Comcast. He is highly regarded in the company and across the vendor community.
Stirling executes overall hardware development for all premise devices to achieve faster new product service, product differentiation and cost management. He is an expert in high-volume device deployment and manufacturing. He led the effort to transform Comcast’s industrial design standards for devices. His team launched the first voice-controlled remote control. Stirling leads company efforts to move to all-IP, allowing customers to stream video over WiFi in their homes. Prior to joining Comcast, he led the OnCue hardware and software engineering team at Intel Media. Before that, he was director of product for Intel Media and previously held various roles at BSkyB, including head of hardware, planning and design; head of emerging product strategy; and design manager, among other positions.
What do you like best about your job? “I get to work on a team with incredibly smart people, who are super-passionate about the experiences they create for our customers.”
Vice President of Marketing and Communications, TiVo Research
Robert Wheeler is VP of marketing and communications at TiVo Research, overseeing all aspects of the company’s marketing and external and internal communications. His recent successes include creating a new public awareness of TiVo Research by creating high-profile announcements and relaunching TiVoResearch.com and the TiVo Research brand. Previously, he was the director of press and events at AT&T AdWorks, where he helped launch the cross-screen ad sales division. Earlier, Wheeler worked at NBCUniversal within corporate communications and media relations. He managed key announcements for NBCU, such as the launch of Hulu and the acquisitions of The Weather Channel and Oxygen. He was also chief East Coast talent liaison for NBCU, and produced eight red-carpet events. He began his career as an NBC page, serving as a production assistant for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What do you like best about your job? “There’s so much excitement in the industry around data, especially TV data. Change is a constant right now and it’s exciting to be in the middle of a TV revolution.”
Vice President Corporate and Brand Development, El Rey Network
Theresa Vargas-Wyatt began her work with El Rey Network in 2014, reporting directly to the company’s founder and chairman, Robert Rodriguez. She devised campaigns targeting the “the new mainstream,” with the goal of transforming the network into a large, diverse multiplatform programmer. Before joining El Rey, she was part of Muñoz & Co., where she grew revenue by 110% over five years. She advised Fortune 100 brands such as Google, Target, and AT&T on market strategies targeting the U.S. English-speaking Latino consumer. In 2014 she coordinated efforts between Mark Zuckerberg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Yahoo and Don Graham to establish a $36 million scholarship fund for undocumented youth.
Wyatt holds a JD/MBA from St. Mary’s University and a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and their two sons.
What do you like best about your job? “Every day presents a challenge to innovate and find a creative solution and strategy. The future of media is complex with limitless potential. I always bring people along with me because we are stronger together.”
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