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Sling Media Exec Heads to Rovi

Michael Hawkey, an exec late of video place-shifting pioneer Sling Media, has left to become senior vice president and general manager of Rovi’s Discovery business group.

In that role, Hawkey will head up the group’s overall strategy, including growth initiatives, product development and product marketing. Hawkey will be based out of Rovi’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., and report to John Burke, another video industry vet who joined Rovi as EVP and chief operating officer in March 2014.

Hawkey most recently was senior vice president and general manager for EchoStar Corp.’s Sling Media, the company behind the Slingbox, and before that was VP of marketing and sales for EchoStar Technologies, Dish Network’s technology and set-top-focused spin-off.

During his time at Sling Media, the company introduced several new products, including the M1, a Slingbox targeted at the mainstream, and, more recently, the M2, a new version that drops app fees but relies on a somewhat controversial ad-supported model.

Before Sling Media and EchoStar, Hawkey held exec slots at set-top maker Advanced Digital Broadcast and at silicon provider STMicroelectronics.

Hawkey comes on board following Rovi’s recent renewal with Charter Communications, and as it looks to lock up new licensing deals with its “big-four” -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV (now part of AT&T) and Dish Network. On the search and discovery end, the company’s Conversation Services platform is partly based on the “Knowledge Graph”-driven semantic technologies and natural language controls it obtained last year via Rovi’s $62 million acquisition of Veveo.

"With more than 25 years of industry experience, Michael brings tremendous expertise to Rovi and a solid track record in driving digital entertainment software and solutions across multiple screens and mobile devices worldwide," Burke said, in a statement.  "Michael's leadership in successfully managing product development and bringing next-generation products to market makes him well-suited to support Rovi's rapidly growing Discovery business."

“Rovi is redefining the way consumers discover and view content around the world,” Hawkey added. "I am very excited to join the Rovi team and help the company continue to drive innovation and bring value to our customers across the digital entertainment industry on every screen."