50 VOD Professionals UK 2016 – Results!

Who are the fifty most influential people working in the UK online video industry? Here are our 2016 results!

In his seminal book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that there are three rules which govern whether something, anything – an idea, a product, a political movement, a TV show or even a VOD service – becomes an epidemic or not. First, the message that is being spread has to be “sticky” or memorable. Second, the context (in terms of time, place and cultural / social / technological readiness) within which the idea disseminates has to be right. Finally, “The Law of the Few” means that essentially, three sets of people with a “… rare set of social gifts” need to be involved to help the thing tip over and become a runaway success. They are:

  • Connectors – the supreme networkers;
  • Mavens – the information specialists or what I’d call (in a good way, for I am one!), the geeks that accumulate knowledge;
  • Salesmen – the persuaders

It’s a neat model and I’ve been thinking about it lately in relation to the phenomenally fast growth in online video consumption. Was VOD an idea that was ready to tip as soon as the right infrastructure, in the form of fast broadband and personal mobile devices, became widely available? Was it the genius of the underlying “Watch anywhere, anytime, according to YOUR schedule” message popularised by brilliant marketing campaigns like BBC iPlayer’s launch slogan, “Making the unmissable, unmissable”? And how much of a part did superb salespeople like Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos, Anthony Rose and some of the leaders who appear in our list below play in banging the on-demand drum? It’s a fascinating conversation… to be continued (tweet me @consultVodkr).

For now, I’d add a fourth group of people that are needed to make a set of services an epidemic. They are the Architects: the product developers, designers, coders, business analysts and testers that actually envision and build the interfaces and journeys that customers end up using. Together with the connectors, mavens and salespeople, all of this year’s 50 VOD Professionals UK are undoubtedly influential in the new world of television.

Give them a cheer and come and see some of them talk about what they’ve been working on at our upcoming VUIX conference in October. Netflix, HBO, Sky, ITV, UKTV, Viaplay, A&E Networks, RTE, STV, Wuaki, the BFI, Curzon Home Cinema, MUBI and NRK, amongst others, are confirmed speakers!

Phil Fearn...

Director of ...
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Phil Fearnley
Director of Homepage and myBBC
Last year's ranking: 42

Tailoring Transformation

For as long as we can remember, content recommendation and personalisation (not to mention Big Data) have been hot topics in the VOD industry but the promise has always exceeded the practical application. Sure, Netflix has a sophisticated recommendation system and Sky, with the help of ThinkAnalytics, is getting there but we’re yet to see a visionary, time / context / device-sensitive solution hit the market. That’s where Fearnley comes in. Big things are expected from his department, myBBC, later this year, which aims to provide users with tailored content from across the BBC’s news, sport, weather and television portfolios.

Rhys Jones

Head of Prod...
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Rhys Jones
Head of Product Development, NOW TV, Sky
Last year's ranking: 2

Climbing Still Higher

Whilst Jones maintains his #2 ranking from last year there’s little doubt that his employer, Sky, has well and truly bought its A Game to the world of on-demand viewing. New content deals have been signed with HBO, Showtime and Sony; the long-awaited Sky Q set-top box (surely the last hurrah for this technology) has finally been launched; revenues are up and just in the last couple of weeks, Sky Movies has rebranded to Sky Cinema with a new film premiering every weekday adding to a catalogue of titles that appear on Sky months before hitting competitor platforms. Sky – and by extension NOW TV – is now the de facto premium OTT brand in the UK and it’ll be interesting to see how Netflix, Amazon et al respond.

Jonathan T...

CEO, Digital...
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Jonathan Thompson
CEO, Digital UK
Last year's ranking: 41

VOD for Everyone

Thompson is the Chief Exec of Digital UK, the company that has led technical development of Freeview Play, a new hybrid TV service combining free-to-air broadcast channels with the most popular on-demand players across a range of televisions and set-top boxes. VOD is now therefore available to a greater proportion of the British public than ever before. Digital UK is also responsible for developing the product’s DTT strategy and managing day-to-day operations for Freeview. Thompson previously worked in the Office of the Chairman at DMGT plc, advising on group strategy, and is a former Director of Strategy for both the media regulator Ofcom and Channel 4.

Tom Williams

Co-Founder a...
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Tom Williams
Co-Founder and CEO, Ostmodern
Last year's ranking: 6

Product Guru

If you ever feel like geeking out with someone about video on demand, go and have a chat with Tom Williams who couples charm and enthusiasm with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry. His company, Ostmodern, is a digital design agency that has worked with some of the biggest broadcasters in Europe including, for example, the BBC, Channel 4 and Maxdome. Prior to starting Ost, Williams held senior user experience and design positions at UK VOD LLP and Preloaded after starting his career at the BBC working on early prototypes for the emerging broadband video space. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the sector, with a particular focus on digital product design and VOD delivery.

Gidon Katz

Director of ...
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Gidon Katz
Director of Now TV, Sky

New TV Now!

We’re big fans of NOW TV here at VOD Professional. We like the technology, the easy integration with Roku, the price points (especially for entertainment and movies), the low-commitment subscription model and, of course, the premium content on offer forged in deals by its parent company, Sky. Sure, NOW TV can be seen as a defensive move by the satellite giant knowing, as it does, that its triple-play proposition is nearing the end of its lifecycle (stable 5G connections will eventually remove the need for fixed lines and broadband) but it’s also an opportunity to build relationships with cordcutters and cord-nevers. Katz is in charge of that new customer base.

Faz Aftab

Director of ...
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Faz Aftab
Director of Business Development, ITV

Delivering Relationships

As Director of Business Development & Partnerships in Online for ITV, Aftab is responsible for the connected television, online and mobile video distribution strategy for the commercial broadcaster. She has recently been involved in the launch of Freeview Play in the UK and continues to drive this activity at ITV. A key area of her responsibilities is managing complex associations with companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. And with her in-depth knowledge of the end-to-end video delivery ecosystem, we’re told that Aftab has established “ground-breaking relationships with partners in record time”.

Paul Kanar...

Director of ...
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Paul Kanareck
Director of Online and Brands, ITV

Live TV is the Killer App

Kanareck, who held senior positions at Vodafone and Channel 4 before joining ITV in 2012, has overseen massive growth in the profit and viewing figures of ITV Hub (formerly known as ITV Player). By placing “just regular, live telly” at the heart of the service, simulcast now accounts for 30% of all viewing, rising even as high as 50% during certain sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup. With over 14 million registered users, Kanareck and his team are delivering more original content, enhanced ad targeting and the roll out of the ad-free SVOD service, ITV Hub+.

Andy Taylor

Co Founder a...
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Andy Taylor
Co Founder and CEO, Little Dot Studios

Next Generation Broadcaster

Taylor has had a long career in the media – from serving as the Managing Director of Victoria Real during the launch of Big Brother in 2000 (he was involved in organising live video streaming from inside the house) to becoming the MD of Digital at Channel 4 in 2004 where his team was responsible for launching 4oD, the UK’s first terrestrial broadcaster VOD service. In 2013 Taylor opened Little Dot Studios, which today operates over 150 television programmes and YouTube channels on behalf of production companies, accounting for over a billion video views every month.

Oliver Dav...

Head of Digi...
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Oliver Davies
Head of Digital Products, UKTV

Leading Innovation at UKTV

As the Head of Digital Products at UKTV, Davies has full responsibility for the development and product management of UKTV’s direct-to-consumer and on-demand products. During his time at the commercial broadcaster, he has successfully led the product release of UKTV Play on Amazon Fire TV, YouView, iOS, Android and Freeview Play and is currently leading in-house development across a further range of OTT devices and set-top boxes. Since launching in 2014 the UKTV Play app has been downloaded almost one million times. UKTV has recently celebrated its most successful year, with record viewing share reaching 5.27%.

François ...

CEO, BeBanjo
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François Chabat
CEO, BeBanjo
Last year's ranking: 7

Routing for Content

With potentially thousands of assets available on any given VOD service (each attached to a set of specific requirements for exactly where, when and on which device they can be played) there is now a clear need from OTT providers for a robust content scheduling solution – Excel spreadsheets just won’t cut it anymore. Cue BeBanjo. Headed by Chabat, who has developed successful relationships with broadcasters such as Turner, BBC Worldwide, BT TV and Channel 5, the company offers a suite of tools for managing schedules, rights and metadata. Most recently BeBanjo has started working with MCNs (multi-channel networks) such as Machinima.

Dan Saunders

Head of Goog...
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Dan Saunders
Head of Google Living Room Products, Northern Europe
Last year's ranking: 44

Staking a Claim on Your TV Set

In the ongoing battle for the living room, a number of fierce participants wage war for your attention and screen space – companies like Apple and Amazon, for example, compete to sell you apps, services and content via their set-top boxes. In the last few months however it’s Google that seems to have taken a stealthy lead, at least temporarily. According to data from research company, IHS, Google shipped 3.2 million units of its Chromecast devices in Q1 2016, almost double that of Apple. Will this trend continue? Quite possibly. Chromecast’s low price point and no frills experience continue to make it an attractive consumer proposition.

James Jack...

Technology D...
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James Jackson
Technology Director, Freeview Play

Excellent Pedigree

Responsible for the management of the technology, specifications and systems at Freeview, the UK’s largest free-to-air television platform, Jackson has extensive experience in developing distribution services. His remit covers the hybrid TV platform Freeview Play which, says its website, “offers the best of UK broadcast and on-demand content without a subscription”. Prior to joining Digital UK in June 2015, Jackson was Head of Distribution Strategy for the BBC and has held a number of senior roles within the corporation’s technology teams over the last 10 years, encompassing commercial and engineering management.

David Ball

Business Dev...
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David Ball
Business Development, TV Platforms, BBC

He’s Connected

An accomplished digital and TV executive with a huge range of experience and solid track record of success, Ball has held senior roles at a range of global media companies including the BBC, Comcast, Sky and Disney. He combines strategic vision and creative flair with commercial experience and has, we’re told, a real passion for how audiences find and consume content across all platforms and devices. In his current role at the BBC, Ball builds and manages the corporation’s relationship with the Connected TV market working across iPlayer, BBC News, BBC Sport and the Connected Red Button.

Orpheus Warr

CTO, Channel 4
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Orpheus Warr
CTO, Channel 4

Super Technologist

Warr oversees both technology strategy and operations at Channel 4, with overall responsibility for architecture, R&D and information security as well as service delivery and distribution across IT, broadcast and non-linear platforms. Warr was instrumental in the design and launch of the channel’s pioneering 4oD product back in 2006 and has provided technical oversight of its expansion across an increasing number of devices and platforms, including its evolution into All 4. Warr is an advocate of standardisation in a complex technology landscape and is a member of the DPP Board and the DTG Council.

Olivia Cho...

Head of Prod...
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Olivia Chopin
Head of Product, Freeview Play

Products & Strategy

Chopin, we’re told, has some serious entrepreneurial drive moving, as she did, from a successful career in management consultancy a decade ago to becoming a respected leader in product strategy for OTT catch-up services today. Chopin is currently heading up Freeview Play product development and along with Jonathan Thompson and James Jackson (see #3 and #12) makes up a triumvirate of execs from the company to appear in this year’s list. Prior to her work for Digital UK, Chopin advised on YouView, from its inception as Project Canvas to the finished platform.

Ian Parr

Head of Desi...
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Ian Parr
Head of Design BT TV and Sport

BT’s Wizard of Oz

BT has had a busy twelve months. From becoming the first television service in the UK to offer Netflix in 4K / UHD on its set-top boxes to recording the largest customer growth in any quarter for BT TV in Q3 2015 (accredited to the £897 million the company spent acquiring the UEFA Champions League rights) the telco has built a solid OTT product. As Head of Design, Parr leads BT’s technology team in developing solutions for BT TV and BT Sport. He is responsible for content acquisition, encoding, content security and distribution technology.

Luke Gaydon

Vice Preside...
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Luke Gaydon
Vice President of OTT Solutions, Brightcove
Last year's ranking: 19

Five is a Charm

A regular presence in 50 VOD Professionals, this entry marks Gaydon’s fifth appearance in our annual list of influential people working in the UK’s new television industry. As Vice President of OTT Solutions, he has already had a busy year: in January Gaydon helped with the launch of OTT Flow, Brightcove and Accedo’s turnkey OTT offering. In addition to this, he is responsible for developing Brightcove’s global go-to market strategy for OTT and acting as an executive sponsor for Brightcove’s media businesses in EMEA and JAPAC. Gaydon has spent almost 13 years helping top media organisations meet their business challenges.

Jody Allen

Co-Founder a...
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Jody Allen
Co-Founder and Director, Ostmodern
Last year's ranking: 6

Creative Guru

Allen is the co-founder and Managing Director at Ostmodern, a digital design agency that is regularly engaged by the biggest names in European broadcast. With more than fifteen years’ experience across digital media and VOD (starting at BMW and Cadbury, where he worked on interactive video and web platform projects) Allen has held senior creative design and user experience roles at Channel 4 and UK VOD LLP. He has a track record for bringing ambitious projects to life and has delivered numerous products on time and to budget. Allen, like his colleague Tom Williams (see #4) is another VOD polymath, well worth having a pint with!

Matthew Qu...

Head of Medi...
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Matthew Quinn
Head of Media Technology & Future Development, Liverpool Football Club
Last year's ranking: 35

VOD League Leader

During his tenure at Liverpool, Quinn has overseen the development of the club’s video on-demand service from humble beginnings to the highest subscribed football VOD platform of any premier league football club. Responsible for the technical infrastructure behind post-production, Quinn has helped grow the digital media team to over seventy industry experts, of which he manages twenty “very talented individuals”. His recent projects include a channel upgrade from SD to HD in under six weeks and the continual development of efficient media workflows.

Efe Cakarel

Founder and ...
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Efe Cakarel
Founder and CEO, MUBI

In the Mood for… MUBI?

Cakarel founded SVOD service, MUBI, in 2007 after he discovered that he couldn’t watch the movie, In the Mood for Love, in a café in Tokyo. Since then he has built a team of like-minded, passionate individuals to work with him across offices in London, San Francisco and New York. The company operates a unique distribution model – one film is released to the platform every day that has been carefully curated by an in-house team of editorial staff. The title will then only be available for 30 days before it expires, enabling MUBI to save on expensive, lengthy content acquisition agreements.

Philip Mor...

Director, Cu...
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Philip Mordecai
Director, Curzon Home Cinema

Building a Digital Home for Art-House Lovers

Curzon Home Cinema (CHC) is the digital destination for film aficionados who are unable to get their art-house fix from bigger, mass-market players like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. Watched in over 7 million homes, the popular content destination has come a long way under Mordecai’s leadership and now offers award-winning movies across the UK & Ireland simultaneously with their theatrical release. The online experience is deeply linked to the bricks and mortar side of the business – for example, Curzon cinema members receive discounts on all digital downloads.

Nick Walters

Founder and ...
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Nick Walters
Founder and CEO, Hopster
Last year's ranking: 4

Battling the Big Boys

Kid’s VOD is big business. Companies like Sky and Netflix have invested significant amounts of cash into securing content rights for all ages – only last year, for example, the satellite operator grow its catalogue of family-friendly programming by 600%. Competing with these deep-pocketed businesses is Hopster, founded by Walters, which has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2014. In the last 12 months alone the company has secured major partnerships with Vodafone and EE, has been listed as the #1 grossing app for kids in the UK and awarded the title of ‘Best Video Streaming Platform’ for pre-schoolers by Kidscreen.

Steve Whil...

Product Deve...
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Steve Whilton
Product Development Director, Digital D2C (DisneyLife), EMEA

A New Classmate

When, last November, DisneyLife, a new SVOD streaming service from the Walt Disney behemoth was launched in the UK it came as no big surprise. The company, of course, has perhaps the biggest worldwide heritage in children’s content and it has the money and name recognition to ompete against giants like Sky, Netflix and YouTube Kids who are also making a play for the kid’s VOD market. It’ll be interesting to see who wins out. Whilton, formerly of Sony and Last.fm, oversees development of the product which is available on iOS, Android, Chromecast and Airplay.

Matt McKie...

Director and...
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Matt McKiernan
Director and General Manager for Sport, StreamAMG

Bringing Football Online

McKiernan leads the sports division at StreamAMG, a global provider of digital media solutions for European companies, and is responsible for all sports technology, product integration, feature evolution and day-to-day operational workflows. Many of his clients (which include multiple Premier League and international football clubs) deploy StreamAMG’s ‘Media Platform’ solution which, we’re told, supports over 6,000 live audio / video events and millions of hours of VOD content globally each year. McKiernan was responsible for delivering the PlayerHD project for the English Football League and operates what is now a 365 sports production operation.

Mark Chris...

CTO, Piksel
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Mark Christie
CTO, Piksel
Last year's ranking: 40

Visionary at Piksel

A true veteran of the online video industry, Christie has been working in digital media since 1996 when he owned IOKO, a company that “dragged cable and media companies through the process of digitization” by building and managing online video platforms for the likes of Sky, Liberty Global and more. Now CTO of Piksel, Christie worked on the first video-on-demand service with dynamic playlist functionality, called Sky Video Lounge in 2006, and has since been involved in a number of industry firsts including developing the first commercial OTT service in Europe (for Sky) and the first online TV platform in the Middle East and North Africa with OSN.

Emma Boston

General Mana...
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Emma Boston
General Manager, UKTV Play

Bringing UKTV Brands Under One Roof

Boston is responsible for UKTV’s award-nominated on-demand service UKTV Play. Under her stewardship, we understand, the AVOD service has become the network’s fastest growing brand with latest figures revealing the service has achieved a record-breaking 81% year-on-year growth for Q1 2016. As part of her remit, Boston oversees the editorial strategy for UKTV Play and has recently spearheaded a significant redesign of the service. Based on extensive A/B testing, the revamped service has been designed to make viewers’ experience more enjoyable and personalised, with new features and easy-to-view genre listings.

Laurence M...

Chief Execut...
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Laurence Miall-d’Août
Chief Executive Officer, TVbeat
Last year's ranking: 25

Granular Audience Insights 

As the video delivery infrastructure behind many VOD services has now been built and optimised, the attention of broadcasters is rightly turning to the next big question – how do we monetise? One answer to that question is using better analytics; understanding exactly how, where and when your viewers are consuming content. As CEO of the TV analytics SaaS platform TVbeat, Miall-d’Aout is ready to help you do just that. Under her leadership the company has secured partnerships with companies such as Freesat and Nemo TV. Prior to TVbeat, Miall-d’Aout held a number of senior positions at both MTG and TalkTalk.

Thomas Bre...

Managing Dir...
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Thomas Bremond
Managing Director Europe, Freewheel

Monetising Video Across Platforms

Even with the increased number of ad-blockers in use and the rise of subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, AVOD (VOD supported by advertising) is big business. A study released by Digital TV Research earlier this year forecasts that by 2021, ad-supported players will generate revenues of $10.98 billion in the US and Canada, up from $5.65 billion in 2015. Freewheel, which helps television companies monetise their content through a robust technology platform for ad management, will play a big role in this growth. As the European MD, Bremond is tasked with driving the technology company’s sales and marketing strategy across the continent.

Adam Poulter

Managing Dir...
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Adam Poulter
Managing Director EMEA, LATAM & APAC, Vubiquity
Last year's ranking: 18

Global Content Footprint

Under Poulter’s leadership, VUBIQUITY’s international content distribution footprint has now risen from 37 to 117 countries, putting it in the homes of 109 million people worldwide, which is, we’re told, 35% more than Netflix (Q1 2016). He has also led the launch of the company’s new white-label “Storefront as a Service”, a fully managed end-to-end video-on-demand solution that encompasses everything from content strategy, licensing, media management, publishing and curation. A true veteran in the broadcast space, Poulter has previously held senior positions at Ericsson, Liberty Global, ITV and Viacom amongst others.

Alistair B...

Chief Techno...
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Alistair Brown
Chief Technology & Platforms Officer, STV
Last year's ranking: 12

VOD King in the North!

Since joining STV in 2008, Brown has assembled a highly capable product development team which has delivered exceptional growth in digital audiences for the business. As the man in charge of leading the group’s overall VOD strategy, he has managed to roll out the STV service to all of the major device platforms and introduced some nifty features including real-time ad replacement for live streaming prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Having joined STV’s Executive Team in 2011, Brown has also held senior management roles at The Scotsman and The Financial Times.

Jamie West

Deputy MD of...
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Jamie West
Deputy MD of Sky Media

Intelligent Advertising 

Great technological strides have been made for brands wishing to get themselves in front of a specific audience segment. Leveraging the power of user data, platforms like Sky’s AdSmart lets companies pinpoint exactly which households they’d like to target, taking into account everything from age, location, lifestyle or even if they have a pet! By enabling different ads to be shown to different households watching the same programme, smaller, regional businesses that otherwise couldn’t justify TV spend have more opportunities to get on the big screen. West was responsible for leading the launch of AdSmart in 2014.

Gareth Capon

CEO, Grabyo
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Gareth Capon
CEO, Grabyo
Last year's ranking: 8

Star Power

With backers like Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, you’d do well to think that Grabyo know what they’re talking about when it comes to live video and sports. The company enables organisations such as La Liga, Wimbledon and Real Madrid football club, plus other broadcast clients, to live stream, edit, share and monetise real-time social video on any platform. As CEO, Capon has overseen significant growth since taking the reins back in 2014 and helped the company become a global partner for Facebook Live earlier this year.

Steve Forde

Director for...
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Steve Forde
Director for Markening and Experience, ITV

Driving Viewer Registrations

Forde is one of the UK’s leading experts in broadcaster video on-demand, digital and data marketing. Before joining ITV in late 2015 he headed up the award-winning Channel 4 viewer data strategy and was widely credited with initiatives which saw over 50% of the UK’s 16-34 year-olds registering to 4oD, the broadcaster’s VOD service, and 13.5 million sign-ups overall. Forde worked heavily on the YouView launch marketing plan and at ITV, is now back in viewer-facing mode. Since ITV Player became ITV Hub, the service has seen a 40% increase in viewing.

Debbie James

Head of Prod...
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Debbie James
Head of Product, Channel 5
Last year's ranking: 23

Rich Broadcast Heritage

In her role as Head of Product at Channel 5, James has recently launched Channel 5’s new video content proposition My5, with a multi-platform rollout coming soon. Building on her success in taking Demand 5 to more platforms than any other UK commercial broadcaster, James is also responsible for the development of services for Big Brother and the popular children’s service, Milkshake! Prior to Channel 5, James developed VOD services for UKTV, Sky and AETN UK and has over 20 years’ experience in digital product development.

Tom Morgan

Director of ...
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Tom Morgan
Director of Product & Delivery, ITV
Last year's ranking: 14

Product Development Expert

Now in his 4th year at ITV, where his team have since rebuilt their underlying player platform, refreshed the UX, launched a subscription business and most recently led the delivery of the new ITV Hub brand with “live telly” at its heart, Morgan heads up product development at the commercial broadcaster. During his tenure he has overseen year-on-year growth of long-form requests (14%) and overall consumption (42%). His main focus today is on “… leading and developing world class, autonomous product teams that continue to exceed all expectations in building quality and innovation into everything they do”.

Charles Da...

Senior Direc...
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Charles Dawes
Senior Director, International Marketing, Rovi
Last year's ranking: 36

Spreading the Rovi Word

Dawes spearheads Rovi’s international marketing efforts across EMEA and Australia/New Zealand. A regular speaker at industry events, he is responsible for evangelising how Rovi’s products, services and technology licencing programmes can help media and entertainment companies bring amazing, award-winning experiences to their consumers. Currently Dawes is focused on the introduction of Rovi Conversation Services, which allows users to discover content via an intuitive speech-based system that uses natural language and is powered by deep data analysis drawn from the Rovi Knowledge Graph. Recently, Rovi completed the acquisition of TiVo for $1.1 billion.

Claire Hall

Head of Prod...
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Claire Hall
Head of Product Management, BBC Worldwide

Pioneer in British Broadcasting

Hall is a true veteran in the broadcast space, having started her VOD career with the early deployment of Sky Player (known today as Sky Go) and developing the core experience of Sky Q’s set-top box. Since leaving the satellite operator in 2013 she has headed up product management at BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the public service broadcaster, and was instrumental in the development of BBC Store, which enables users to purchase and keep titles from the BBC archives. She is also a former Director of Product Services at revenue tracking and management agency, Mediamorph.

Laura Nana

Senior Produ...
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Laura Nana
Senior Product Manager, International OTT, Sky

No Limits

Nana joined Sky back in 2011 where she first started working on Sky iD, the username and password mechanism that validates users for over 30 Sky online services. She then teamed up with Product Development Director and 50 VOD Professional’s #1 in 2013, Holly Knill, to launch Sky Store Rentals OTT, where she focused on integrating authentication and payment platforms into the service. After a short stint at the BBC as Executive Product Manager, Nana returned to the satellite operator to work with Sky Store Director Nicola Bamford on internationalising Sky’s OTT products.

Ron Downey

CEO and Co-F...
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Ron Downey
CEO and Co-Founder, Massive Interactive

Steering a Massive Charge

Having founded Massive Interactive over 20 years ago, Downey has seen the company grow into a global provider of online video technology for some of the largest tier 1 media companies out there – Channel 5, Bell Media, Deutsche Telekom, YouView and Sony UK, to name a few. His focus for the past twelve months has been to focus extensively on R&D and original product development for UI platform solutions, an approach that has, we’re told, begun to pay off. After a positive response to his Massive AXIS solution during IBC and NAB, Downey looks to continue building and maintaining long-term relationships with top operators and content owners around the world.

Ben Forman

Principal St...
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Ben Forman
Principal Streaming Architect, Sky
Last year's ranking: 50

Streaming Technology Expert

Forman is a streaming media industry veteran, starting his career all the way back in 1999. Since joining Sky in November 2010 with initial responsibility for defining and integrating the streaming and DRM components for Sky Go on iOS, he has worked on some major consumer propositions which continue to shape the online video industry as we see it today. Forman is currently accountable for supporting client teams with streaming, DRM and 3rd party plugin integrations and platform teams with workflow, broadcast integration and content delivery integrations, supporting the delivery and innovation for all of Sky’s OTT video applications.

Dan Biddle

Director of ...
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Dan Biddle
Director of Strategic Innovation, Twitter UK
Last year's ranking: 17

Closing the Gap Between TV and Social Media

Biddle is the Director of Strategic Innovation for Twitter UK, leading new, creative partnerships across the media space. Prior to this role he was responsible for the company’s TV relationships in the UK, working closely with broadcasters and production companies to help them more effectively use the social platform. Before taking up his post at Twitter, Biddle was the Editorial Lead for Social Media at BBC Vision. Other credits include the social media campaign for the BAFTA Award-winning BBC Two series, Virtual Revolution. He’s also an engaging public speaker – go see him present if you can – and of course you can follow him @danbiddle!

Kieran Bre...

VP Solution ...
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Kieran Bresnan
VP Solution Engineering, Massive Interactive
Last year's ranking: 16

Building Excellent Products

With over 12 years’ experience in digital services development (and a number of appearances in previous 50 VOD Professionals!) Bresnan moved into the new global role of VP Solution Engineering at Massive this year. He and his team continue to innovate with hundreds of applications launching in 2016 for leading broadcasters, operators and content owners. Massive has continued to expand and grow over the past twelve months based on the success of its Massive AXIS platform, which enables rapid application deployment, coupled with real-time scheduling and presentation control.

Matthew Br...

Senior Resea...
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Matthew Brooks
Senior Research & Development Engineer, BBC

Making TV an Interactive Experience

As a Senior Engineer in the BBC’s R&D user experience team, Brooks is tasked with creating new types of audience experience for the public service broadcaster, concentrating on prototypes of associated production tools and workflows. One of his main efforts recently has been on “object-based broadcasting”, which, put simply, is a way of making TV and radio shows responsive to both an end-user’s device and the amount of time they have to consume those media. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the coming year. Brooks has written extensively for the industry and recently launched the world’s first variable length radio programme on BBC Taster.

Kerensa Sa...

Head of Digi...
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Kerensa Samanidis
Head of Digital Products, BFI

Cultural Innovator

With nearly 20 years in new product development and strategy in the media and entertainment sectors, Samanidis joined the BFI three years ago to lead the organisation’s newly created Digital Product team. Spearheading the strategy, design and development of BFI Player, Samanidis has ensured that the BFI’s cultural and commercial goals of building digital audiences for independent cinema remain on target. BFI Player offers a diverse selection of new and classic independent films as well as Britain-on-Film, the BFI’s most significant digital archive project. Having launched both rental and subscription services, Samanidis continues to innovate the core service whilst expanding platform reach.

Matt Stagg

Head of Mobi...
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Matt Stagg
Head of Mobile Video, EE
Last year's ranking: 34

Mobile Master

A regular presence in our annual 50 VOD Professionals list, Stagg heads up the video and content team at EE (the purchase of which by BT was approved earlier this year) and is responsible for the strategy, design and development of all mobile video technologies. Alongside this role Stagg also serves as Chair of the Mobile Video Alliance and is a mentor for the 5G innovation centre looking at video in 2020. When asked for the highlight of his year, his response was to have “spearheaded the foundation of the LTE Broadcast Global Alliance by bringing together EE, Verizon, kt and Telstra to lobby support for broadcast technology”.

Rags Gupta

General Mana...
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Rags Gupta
General Manager, EMEA, Ooyala

Finger on the Pulse

Gupta has a rich heritage in the online video sector – from being a member of Brightcove’s founding management team to holding the position of Chief Commercial Officer of Videoplaza before it was acquired by Ooyala in 2014, his colleagues describe him as having “unparalleled vision across the video and advertising market”. As GM of EMEA, Gupta is responsible for overseeing the growth and success of the video business for customers like Sky Sports, News International, the Telegraph, Chelsea Football Club and Canal+. One of his main focuses currently is to develop and integrate media logistics into the company’s product portfolio.

Peter Doch...

Founder and ...
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Peter Docherty
Founder and CTO, ThinkAnalytics
Last year's ranking: 30

Recommends Recommendations

Docherty is described by his peers as a “pioneer in TV search and recommendations and one of the TV technology industry’s top software visionaries”. He founded content recommendations supplier ThinkAnalytics over 15 years ago and, together with Chairman Eddie Young, has built the business into a successful global company which is currently deployed by over 70 video service providers in more than 40 countries and in 35 languages. His client list is impressive – Cox Communications, Liberty Global, Sky, Viaplay and Zon all employ a solution from ThinkAnalytics. Prior to launching the company, Docherty held positions at BT, Hewlett Packard and K.wiz Solutions.

Bruno Pere...

Director and...
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Bruno Pereira
Director and Founder, TV App Agency
Last year's ranking: 20

Your Man on TV

Pereira is the co-founder of TV App Agency, a company that specialises in the development of Smart TV and Connected TV applications. Despite starting the business only five years ago, he and his team have already developed big screen services for close to 70 customers – telcos and OTT platforms – around the world, including RTE, EE, BeinSports, Wuaki and STV. On top of that, Pereira is a technical whizz having conceived and built the award-winning TVAA platform from a single set of code himself.

Dan Taylor...

Head of BBC ...
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Dan Taylor-Watt
Head of BBC iPlayer
Last year's ranking: 28

Still Unmissable

Despite the fact that Phil Fearnley of the BBC appears at #1 in our list it has been a relatively quiet year for iPlayer. Growth in the number of TV requests slowed to 8% in 2015 (although partly this can be understood as a cyclical phenomenon) and in three of those months, requests were actually down YOY. And aside from BBC3 going online-only in February and continued incremental improvements, from a front-end perspective at least, there hasn’t been much in the way of eye-catching news. Perhaps that then explains Taylor-Watt’s position in 50 VOD Professionals 2016. Do, however, expect a sharp rise next term!

Alexandra ...

Director, Di...
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Alexandra Sernet
Director, Digital Distribution, UK & Eire, Warner Bros.

Expert Deal Maker

Described by her colleagues as “very sharp, astute and a real pleasure to deal with” Sernet leads the UK and Eire transactional VOD strategy and development for Warner Bros. – the largest international territory outside of the US for the studio. With a long career in the online video space (she has held senior positions at TVPlayer, Freesat and the former internet television service, Joost) Sernet has a first class knowledge of the transactional digital market and expertly manages commercial relationships with providers all over the country.



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