- July 26, 2017
- Posted by: Kauser Kanji
- Category: 50 VOD Professionals, OTT, VPLegacy
Who are the fifty most influential people working in the UK online video industry? Here are our 2017 results!
What kind of year has it been for video-on-demand? Netflix now has over 100m subscribers worldwide (over half of them outside of the US); Ofcom reports (using survey data from GfK) that young people in the “pre-family life stage” are watching 2.5 hours of on-demand content a day; Sky announced record on-demand viewing of 2 billion streams and downloads in the six months to 31st December 2016; the BBC has just had served its most streamed Wimbledon ever (24.1m streams); ITV too has a had a strong simulcast summer with its creeper hit, Love Island, accounting for, we understand, peaks of over 50% of all viewing on ITV Hub; and Amazon has now incorporated over 40 television channels (available via PPV) on its Prime and Fire platforms. Yeah, VOD is still ramping up.
So who are the people who are making it all happen? Who are the architects, the product developers, coders, testers, business analysts, marketers, promoters, salespeople and all the visionaries that keep our VOD world spinning in 2017? Here comes our Top 50 – 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 November.
He Made It!
It’s been another big year for Sky: the company reported that it had served two billion on-demand streams and downloads in 2016, achieved a 12% increase in revenues for the group as a whole, commissioned 100 original series through its European production studio and was planning to shift to IP-delivery only doing away entirely with satellite dishes. NOW TV (which we and our judges think is brilliant in terms of content, personalisation and UI / UX), now reportedly has over 1m subscribers in the UK, has launched in Ireland and is looking at further international expansion. Rhys Jones, NOW TV’s Head of Product, who has ranked #2 in our list for the past two years, now hits the top spot.
Thompson is Chief Executive of Digital UK – the company leading technical development of Freeview Play, the hybrid TV service combining free-to-air broadcast channels with the most popular on-demand players across a range of TVs and set-top boxes. Freeview Play is now the most widely supported catch-up TV service by manufacturers. Digital UK is also responsible for developing DTT strategy and managing day-to-day operations for Freeview, including the electronic programme guide (EPG).
A former Director of Strategy of both media regulator Ofcom and Channel 4, Jonathan is a member of the Which? Council, the management body of the Consumers’ Association.
She Lives in VOD!
Aftab is a one of UK’s leading VOD experts and has shaped and delivered IPTV services – from product, commercial and technical perspectives – over the last 15 years. She joined ITV in 2011 to spearhead the distribution strategy of ITV Hub and has since seen the service grow to 30 platforms, resulting in soaring profits and viewing numbers (up 40% in the first half of 2017). Hub now also has 20m registered users and a freemium, in-app, direct to consumer offer. Aftab manages relationships with partners including Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft and helps look after online technology strategy, architecture and delivery. And she’s at the forefront of shaping Freeview Play in the UK.
Earlier this year, Tony Hall announced his ambition to “reinvent the BBC for a new generation” and part of that plan would be to reinvent BBC iPlayer with new technologies including AI, voice control and personalisation. iPlayer needed to transform from a catchup service into a “must-visit destination in its own right”, he said. These goals explain Hall’s appearance in our list this year. He is the 16th Director-General and the editorial, operational and creative leader of the BBC, with responsibility for a global workforce running services across TV, radio and online. He joined the corporation as a news trainee in 1973 and during a 28 year career has held roles including Senior Producer at World at One, Assistant Editor of the Nine O’Clock News, Output Editor for Newsnight, culminating as Chief Executive of BBC News from 1996 to 2001.
Distribution & Syndication
If Tony Hall is the man with the plan at the BBC, Kieran Clifton, we’re told, is the guy who makes things happen. Having previously held the roles of Head of Strategy, Future Media & Technology and Controller of Digital Strategy, Clifton now heads up the Distribution & Business Development department at the corporation which is responsible for the distribution of the BBC’s portfolio of television and radio services and the syndication of the BBC’s online services on behalf of licence fee payers. He also oversees the BBC’s participation in platform joint ventures Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Digital UK.
As Channel 4’s CTO, Warr oversees both Technology Strategy and Operations at Channel 4 with responsibility for Architecture, R&D and Information Security as well as Service Delivery and Distribution across IT, Broadcast and Non-Linear platforms. He was instrumental in the design and launch of the pioneering 4oD product and has provided technical oversight of its expansion across an ever increasing number of devices and platforms, including its evolution into All 4.
Warr has driven the adoption of Cloud technologies to power the company’s Big Data and online platforms, and continues to explore opportunities presented by the increasing convergence between linear and non-linear distribution.
He’s done it Again!
How do VOD services encourage user registrations? At Channel 4, Forde pioneered a social agreement with customers called the Viewer Promise which outlined the benefits of signing in and transparently explained how their data would be used. This approach seemed to work – All 4 now has over 15m registered users. In 2015, Forde joined ITV to lead the engagement and experience strategy for ITV Hub. In its first year, usage grew 44% YOY and ITV Hub was awarded the Broadcast Digital Award for Best Video Platform for its 2016 performance.
Forde has since become ITV’s Director of Online Product and Marketing and he champions a viewer-centric approach: putting data, analytics and viewer validation at the heart of the product strategy.
All 4 VOD
As Head of Product, Milton is responsible for the award-winning All 4, the home of Channel 4’s VOD proposition. She oversaw the successful product launch of the service in 2015 and has since led a wide-ranging programme of continued product improvements, delivering pioneering advances in personalisation alongside a comprehensive overhaul of big screen UX. 15m+ viewers are now registered with All 4– including more than half of all 16-34 year olds in the UK – and its available on more than 20 different platforms, including mobiles, tablets, smart TVs and games consoles.
Milton joined Channel 4’s Strategy team in 2004 and was part of the launch team for the ground-breaking 4oD, initially responsible for the content proposition across all online and TV platforms and then as Head of VOD.
Smart Ads Guy
With over 20 years of TV and online sales experience, West has recently expanded his role to be both Deputy MD of Sky Media, and Group Director of Advanced Advertising at Sky. Leading the operator’s global Advanced Advertising strategy both at a product and commercial level, he’s responsible for driving advertising innovation across the entire group. Having launched the ground-breaking Sky AdSmart and Sky AdVance in the UK market, West’s remit is the development and commercialisation of emerging advertising opportunities spanning TV, digital and cross-screen solutions.
West’s career path has taken him from ITV to Channel 5 to Viacom Brand Solutions and now to the world’s largest and most innovative sales house – Sky Media.
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.
Katz was appointed in 2013 to lead and develop Sky’s pay-lite NOW TV business. In a short space of time he has launched the NOW TV Box, its concomitant entertainment and kids passes, the UK’s first ever contract-free triple-play bundle and, most recently, NOW TV in Ireland. Under his leadership NOW TV has been added to the Cool Brands list and was voted Streaming Service of the Year by T3 magazine.
Prior to joining Sky, Katz spent four years as Managing Director of Box TV, a joint venture between Bauer and Channel 4 and whilst there, he launched 4music. Before that he was at Virgin Media/NTL for nine years where his successes included launching the Virgin On-Demand service and leading their content acquisition teams.
Singing a VOD Song
Another regular in our list, the second year for the ITV Hub has not proved to be a difficult second album for Paul Kanareck as the service has already grown by 40% in the first half of 2017. The service continues to slash the BBC iPlayer’s historic lead amongst the broadcasters and now boasts 20m registered users (including 75% of all 16-24 year olds in the UK). Live TV and ITV’s premium ad-free service, Hub+, continue to make the offering distinct but with all that data, we’re told that we can expect a greater focus on targeted advertising and personalisation over the coming months and years.
Huntington has over 20 years of experience in developing solutions, services and products for digital television, starting with video-on-demand trials in the early 1990’s. In his current role as CTO of Freesat he leads the design, development and live operations of the Freesat product portfolio. Under his technical direction, Freesat continues to be an innovation hub for free-to-view television in the UK and across the globe.
Huntington is also active in several industry groups; he is a steering board member and the chair of the marketing and education group of the HbbTV Association and a council member of DTG.
As Technology Director of Digital UK, Jackson is responsible for the management of the technology, specifications and systems supporting the UK’s largest free-to-air television platform. This includes Freeview Play – the hybrid TV platform offering the best of UK broadcast and on-demand content without subscription.
Jackson has extensive experience of developing and managing distribution services. Prior to joining Digital UK in June 2015, he was Head of Distribution Strategy for the BBC and has held a range of senior roles within the BBC’s distribution and technology teams over the last 10 years, encompassing commercial and engineering management.
As Head of BBC iPlayer, Taylor-Watt leads the development of the UK’s #1 online TV service. Ten year’s after its original launch, BBC iPlayer continues to break records (300 million programmes requests in January, for example) and innovate across screens. Recent highlights include rolling out its Live Restart functionality to mobile apps, introducing subtitles for live channels (a world first) and implementing Pin & Pair sign-in on connected TVs. More than any of those individual features, 2017 will be remembered as the year that BBC iPlayer got personal, with sign-in becoming mandatory on web and mobile apps and personalisation features rolling out across screens (see also Andrew Scott, #16).
Plans to introduce registration / sign-in to use BBC services have been in the works for some time now – you might recall that Phil Fearnley, the Director of Homepage and myBBC ranked at #1 in our list last year. Fearnley has since left the corporation and Andrew Scott has inherited the project. In a blog post earlier this year, Scott announced that on average, three million people who are signed in are now using the BBC’s websites and apps each month. This has resulted in the BBC making over a billion personalised content recommendations in the past year. We look forward to seeing how myBBC evolves over the next 12 months.
An accomplished executive with a passion for how audiences find and consume content, Ball has most recently been working on the distribution of all the BBC’s services (linear and digital, including iPlayer) with platforms and OEMs in the UK, closing numerous deals whilst substantially driving increased usage. He has built high performing channels, services and teams and driven successful engagement strategies for media companies of varying scales. Innovation-focused and with extensive experience in digital content, research, VOD and associated rights issues, Ball brings a well-rounded skill-set to the on-demand industry.
Going with the Flow
In the last 12 months, Chabat has been overseeing BeBanjo’s plans for world domination! While the company – which supplies workflow and scheduling products – continues to grow in the Europe and the US (clients include BT, Channel 5 and BBC Worldwide), new internationalisation capabilities have opened up access to Asia and BeBanjo’s solutions have been rolled out to major broadcasters in Singapore, Japan, South Korea. BeBanjo also launched Reporter, a data warehouse for customers looking for increasingly sophisticated insight into their VOD operations. And watch this space – Chabat, who is based in London, told us that he and his team have been working hard on the launch of a new product, to be announced soon.
Thorp has worked in OTT, pay TV and free TV environments domestically and internationally over the past 25 years. Formerly the head of Fox Networks in the UK, having run the Fox and National Geographic channels for 10 years, the past 3½ years have been spent as CEO and founding partner of Global Series Network, the company which runs the Walter Presents curated drama streaming service that partners with Channel 4. Having delivered huge success in the UK, it was most recently launched in the US on several key platforms and is soon to be delivered into multiple territories around the globe.
Sure, Michael Lantz, the CEO of Accedo, is based in Stockholm but our judges were unanimous in commending him not only as the head of this specialist VOD product development supplier (which he jointly founded in 2004) but also as a global industry influencer. Lantz has extensive experience in the converging telecom and media sectors and since starting Accedo, has been driving the transformation of the video experience, helping its customers turn TV viewers into video lovers. Accedo’s customers include ITV here in the UK and Lantz himself holds a Master of Science in Engineering Physics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Strategy & Delivery
Santamaria runs ITV’s enterprise architecture team with prime responsibility for helping ITV innovate as well as making the right technology choices to remain flexible and adaptable in the evolving market. His team is involved in ensuring that content and digital advertising platforms, from linear to non-linear, can meet the needs of scale, reach and targeting.
In recent years Santamaria has led the development of ad insertion, streaming and video delivery both internally and externally working with Freeview Play and Youview, as well as global standards through the DTG and HbbTV.
Forman – another regular in this list – has played a leading role in the launch of live streaming services for nearly twenty years: for Liverpool FC, Premium TV (now called Perform Group) and BBC Radio, before spending six years at Sky as Principle Streaming Architect. Forman joined Amazon in 2016 as Head of European Live Streaming Architecture and is primarily responsible for defining Amazon’s channels in the UK and Germany, working closely with broadcasters and technology partners across Europe, and within Amazon globally to deliver the highest quality live streaming to millions of Amazon customers around the world.
Hear Him Roar!
In the days when DVDs were still a thing, we remember reading about a Disney strategy to throttle demand of its most popular titles: scarcity in the market meant that prices for The Lion King (for example) on portable media remained high rather than content shoring up in the bargain basement. It worked then but in the age of VOD, Disney has its D2C offering – DisneyLife – which Whilton heads up. He also looks after the Disney Channel and the company’s other international direct-to-consumer products.
Williams is, of course, co-founder and CEO at VOD product development specialists, Ostmodern – a supplier that counts some of the biggest global broadcasters, operators and service-providers as customers.
He has over 15 years’ experience in the sector, is a frequent speaker at industry events and since featuring on last year’s list, has been driving his company forward in relation to next-generation sports engagement and the future of broadcast through technologies such as VR. Prior to starting Ostmodern with his business partner, Jody Allen, Williams held senior user experience and design positions at UK VOD LLP and Preloaded, and began his career at the BBC working on early prototypes for the emerging broadband video space.
As Partnerships Manager, Nida leads business development for Samsung’s Smart Hub – the place you go to on the company’s TVs to launch on-demand apps. This role focuses on relationships with public service broadcasters, Pay-TV and free-to-view Operators as well all OTT partners. Nida has delivered the fastest full-range rollout of the complete UK PSB catchup services since 2013 and achieved the introduction of Channel 4’s All4 and Sky’s NOW TV to Samsung’s Tizen platform.
“I joined Samsung when I was a student,” Nida told us, “selling TVs in store; and was proud then, of the amazing value the range offered customers”. She hopes to continue to deliver value and premium experience to Samsung customers and content partners.
International Product Launcher
Nana joined Sky back in 2011 where she first started working on Sky iD, the registration / sign-in mechanism for over 30 Sky online services. She then teamed up with Product Director and 50 VOD Professional’s #1 in 2013, Holly Knill, to launch Sky Store Rentals OTT, where she worked on integrating authentication and payment platforms into the service and later delivering Buy & Keep on Android and iOS devices. After a short stint at the BBC as Executive Product Manager, Nana has returned to the satellite operator as Head of Product, focusing on internationalising Sky’s OTT offerings.
An ever-present in our annual list, Gaydon is a highly experienced senior executive with an extensive knowledge of the media and broadcast sector. He has been at Brightcove since 2008, where he spent 5 years leading its post-sales business in EMEA before moving to his current role as Vice President of OTT Solutions. In his current role, 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 is passionate about the industry and has spent 14 years helping top media organisations to meet their business challenges in the fast paced and complex digital landscape. Prior to Brightcove, he spent 5 years at Channel 4 where he held a number of roles within Future Media & Technology.
Digital Sports Leader
McKiernan ushered many of UK footballs largest brands into a new era in 2017, coordinating their breakaway from the centralised English Football League (EFL) digital platforms structure and putting the power firmly back in club hands. He led the delivery of 17 new WebTV services across all four major divisions in UK football, guiding teams on everything from digital rights in sport, VOD best practice, monetisation options and live streaming delivery. And McKiernan’s vast knowledge of the UK sports sector, rights, tech and UX/UI has seen StreamAMG solidify its position as a go-to OVP for sports clubs and federations in the UK.
Top of the VOD Football Table
Quinn now co-heads and manages the tech and delivery side of LFC’s media department. In the last 12 months he has focused heavily on expanding LFC’s technical media capability and has launched an international channel – delivered via traditional and IP methods to international broadcasters – expanding LFC’s global TV audience further than ever. Quinn has also been developing other ideas: engaging with fans from live pre-season PPV games in India, a live 360 friendly match on YouTube last August, expanded broadcast capability in Anfield’s recently developed main stand, bringing Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, Posts with Google, Snapchat filters and spectacles and many other innovative approaches into the team.
Founded by Walters in 2012, Hopster’s app combines hundreds of episodes of premium kids TV shows with a world of songs, games and learning interactivity. Now launched in over 100 countries, Hopster has topped the app store grossing charts in over 20 markets, and been recognised by Apple as a ‘Best Of’ app of the year for three years running. The service was the winner of the prestigious award for ‘Best Streaming Video’ service at the Kidscreen Awards 2016.
Before founding Hopster Walters spent six years at Viacom International Media Networks, most recently as General Manager for Russia and CIS. Walters was named the UK’s Startup Entrepreneur of the Year (2015).
New Channels & Platforms
A regular in our annual 50 VOD Professionals list, Brown joined STV in 2008 and 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 including, this year, NOW TV, and overseen the inclusion of the broadcaster’s new STV2 linear channel on the STV Player. Brown has previously held senior management roles at The Scotsman and The Financial Times.
Who does the deals for the movies and TV shows that appear on our VOD services? Davey is one of those pros. Appointed as MD of Content in January 2015, he has responsibility for Sky’s entertainment, movies and news channels in the UK and Ireland as well as the entire entertainment offering of Sky Deutschland where he has been Executive Vice President Programming since 2011. For the majority of his career, Davey has worked as an executive in the international pay TV industry holding senior roles in Europe, Asia and the US. Before joining Sky Deutschland in June 2010, Davey was at Sky Italia where he was responsible for launching its terrestrial TV network, cielo. He has also worked as MD of BSkyB in England and CEO of STAR TV in Hong Kong.
As CEO of Grabyo, Capon is responsible for leading a team that has built a market-leading social video production, editing and distribution business. The Grabyo platform was built for the demands of live TV and sports and is proven at scale with the largest rights holders and broadcasters globally including BT Sport, ITV, Bein Sports, La Liga, the English Premier League and AELTC Wimbledon. Selected as a launch partner for both Facebook Live and Periscope, Grabyo delivered more than 3 billion video views and 15,000 live broadcasts in the last year. The company is headquartered in London and opened an office in New York, USA in Jan 2017.
Back in 2011 the BBC told us that it typically took a 4x factor to get live content available for on-demand viewing – if a show was an hour long, it went up on iPlayer inside 4 hours. Things have changed since then, of course, and Kalkanis, as one of the creators of the corporation’s Video Factory live-to-VOD product in 2014, built a solution that could get content on to the platform in near real-time. Moreover, as the BBC’s Director of Platform & Common Services, she led the team that migrated the BBC’s tape-based linear playout workflow to IP and file running in AWS cloud. Now running her own consultancy, M2A Media, Kalkanis uses this knowledge and experience to help customers like Channel 4.
Don’t Skip YouTube
Media coverage for YouTube has been mixed this year. On the one hand, the service’s efforts at moderating staggering amounts of video uploads – and the subsequent user comments relating to those pieces of content – has highlighted a major challenge for its parent, Google, and seen big-budget brand advertisers pull campaigns and (temporarily) allegiances. At the same time, YouTube, especially in the States, has been enriching its offering with multiple live streaming channels and a new and improved UI rollout across platforms. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Barnham can bring her influence to bear on the company’s platform partners in EMEA.
Dawes heads up TiVo’s international marketing team and since the formation of the new TiVo (incorporating Rovi and Digitalsmiths) in September 2016, he has spearheaded the communication of the company’s product offerings across international markets. As a regular commentator and speaker at events around the world, he has helped promote TiVo’s latest advancements in entertainment discovery, including the commercial launch of Conversational Voice search in the UK, the deployment of TiVo’s next-gen user experience at Vodafone Spain, and the introduction of TiVo’s new Studio, Broadcast and Network Metadata Package with Turner EMEA.
In the last 12 months, Chander has taken up a new position within All 4’s senior team and is now responsible for optimising the growth of All 4 (Channel 4’s VOD service) through effective scheduling and promotion management of the content line-up as well as commercial management of All 4’s syndicated platforms such as Sky. Last summer, Chander oversaw the launch of All 4’s YouTube channel, which is steadily growing awareness of All 4’s exclusive content.
Chander has a wealth of experience in the Broadcast sector having previously worked as a strategy consultant in ITV’s Corporate Strategy division. She started her career as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting specialising in the Technology, Media and Telecom sector.
Downey is the CEO of the technology supplier, Massive, a company he co-founded twenty-one years ago. Under his leadership the Massive AXIS video platform has become the industry standard solution for centrally managing and updating video app UI experiences across any device for Tier 1 companies worldwide. Massive has grown 100% YOY for the past three years. Recent customer deployments include BritBox for BBC Worldwide and ITV, Sony Movie Channel for Sony Pictures Television and a brand new inflight entertainment system for LEVEL which is International Airlines Group’s (IAG) new long-haul airline.
Stagg is responsible for Video and Content Technologies at EE, including leading the development of cutting edge tech to provide the optimal viewing experience of online content. In addition, he has now been given the responsibility for defining the Media and Entertainment requirements for 5G at the mobile network operator.
Earlier this year, Stagg was awarded the TV Connect People’s Choice award for the ‘Biggest impact on the connected entertainment industry’ and in 2016 he spearheaded the formation of the LTE Broadcast Global Alliance together with Verizon, Telstra and KT. The aim of that body is to push for early adoption of next-gen broadcast service technologies in the industry.
Playing in the UK
Davies has full responsibility for the development and product strategy of UKTV Play, the fast-growing video-on-demand service from Dave broadcaster UKTV. The app is now live on web, iOS, Android, Youview, Fire TV and Freeview Play (with expansion to Sky and NOW TV in the works), and has enjoyed 100% growth of views YoY, with a million downloads in that period. In the last 12 months Davies has been instrumental in the ongoing development of a sophisticated first-party data capability for the app to support demographic segmentation, CRM and deep personalization across the product portfolio. UKTV Play has been shortlisted for Best Digital Video Platform/Service in the Broadcast Digital Awards for the last three years.
Multi is the New Normal
We don’t hear so much about Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) these days – many have now become (or been acquired by) de facto broadcasters in their own right – but not so long ago these organisations represented waves of independent producers and brands who understood the importance of diversifying media delivery models: cinemas, DVDs, Web and online video. Walker worked at two prominent companies in this space: as Chief Content Officer of Base79 and CCO and Head of Studios at Rightster. The latter bought the former in 2014 and Walker has since taken his knowledge and experience to Facebook as Director of Media Partnerships for EMEA.
Leading the creative vision and brand strategy for YouView across multiple devices, Sazaklidou has been a driving force since YouView’s conception to its recent rebrand known as Next Generation. She has also recently launched YouView’s Innovation Lab, an exciting new programme responsible for defining and driving YouView’s innovation agenda.
Sazaklidou previously worked at Sony PlayStation as the Creative Director for SingStar, a popular competitive music game, whilst also sharing her user experience expertise across various PlayStation teams working with technology such as AR and developing voice and motion controlled experiences.
Lee has looked after scheduling across Discovery’s UK and Eire VOD partners for the past six years. Having initially taken on a small roster of platforms, he has seen VOD usage grow exponentially during his tenure and his team is currently supplying content from Discovery’s twelve channels (including Discovery, Animal Planet, Quest and both Eurosport channels) across multiple deals and DTO properties. 2017 alone has seen extensive renewals with Sky, Virgin and BT, as well as Discovery’s launch of a new subscription VOD service on Amazon Prime. The company is also adding 1,000 hours of programming to its on-demand service.
Appointed as Sky UK’s Chief Marketing Officer earlier this year, Luke Bradley-Jones is responsible for brand strategy, product marketing, and customer engagement across all Sky UK’s TV, broadband and mobile products. In his five years at Sky, LBJ has overseen the transformation of Sky’s on-demand services, as well as leading the go-to-market launch of Sky Store, Sky Go Extra, Sky Box Sets and most recently Sky Q.
Before joining Sky, Bradley-Jones spent five years at BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial arm, initially joining as Head of Strategy before rising to MD of BBC.com and Global iPlayer, overseeing the corporation’s online, mobile and digital video-on-demand business. He also spent two years in the US where he launched BBC.com and built out a digital VOD business through partnerships with Apple, Netflix, Xbox and Yahoo.
Streaming to the World
Akamai is the world’s largest cloud delivery platform, with 200,000 servers in over 130 countries, and now delivering 95 exabytes (that’s 95 billion GB) of data a year across billions of devices. Taylor has worked in the Cloud / Content Delivery space for over 10 years and is currently the company’s Senior Product Director for Media Services responsible for regional media products & media strategy in EMEA. Prior to joining Akamai, Taylor worked at Level3 Communications for over 13 years holding a number of roles including Product Marketing director of cloud services in EMEA and director of Vyvx broadcast services in EMEA within the Level3 Video Cloud portfolio.
In the Clouds
Whilst Amazon Web Services has been the runaway leader in Cloud storage solutions for broadcasters, operators and service-providers over the past few years, times, we understand, are changing. Microsoft is breathing down AWS’s neck with its Azure Stack hybrid solution and Google isn’t far behind either with its own technologies. Remy focuses on business development for the company and aims to help build great products by by leveraging Google’s computing infrastructure, data services and collaboration tools.
In her role as Head of Product at Channel 5, James has continued the rollout and ongoing enhancement of VOD content service My5, across a range of platforms with more in the pipeline – indeed, Demand 5 is already available on more platforms than any other UK commercial broadcaster. James is also responsible for the development of applications for Big Brother (recently winning the Best Digital Programme Support award at the Broadcast Digital Awards) and the popular children’s strand Milkshake!, as well as channel5.com. Prior to Channel 5, James developed VOD services for UKTV, Sky and AETN UK and has over 20 years’ experience in digital product development.
With nearly 20 years in the media and entertainment sectors, Samanidis joined the British Film Institute four years ago to spearhead the strategy, design and development of the BFI’s digital products. The award-winning BFI Player is critical to delivering the BFI’s cultural and commercial goals of building digital audiences for independent film. BFI Player offers a diverse selection of new and classic films available via rental or subscription services as well as free access to Britain-on-Film, the BFI’s most significant digital archive project. BFI Player has sustained significant growth over the past four years and with new developments launching imminently, Samanidis looks forward to continuing to drive BFI Player’s success.
FreeWheel, a Comcast company, supplies an ad management solution which is used by, amongst others, Channel 4 and Sky in the UK and AOL, DIRECTV, Fox, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom in the US. Based in London, Bremond leads FreeWheel’s European sales and marketing strategy, driving the company’s continued expansion across Europe. Prior to joining FreeWheel, he held senior positions at DG, provider of distribution solutions for television advertising and SmartJog, a company spun off from France Telecom and subsequently acquired by TDF, Europe’s largest broadcast infrastructure company. During his tenure, SmartJog became the leader in the electronic distribution of US content for the international market. At TDF, Bremond served as Head of Innovation.
Content & Platform Upgrader
Whatever you think of the £1.2bn that BT paid earlier this year to secure the rights to continue to broadcast the UEFA Champions League until 2021, one can’t deny that the company’s sports content catalogue (which has most recently been bolstered by a deal to show the European Rugby Champions and Challenge Cups in the UK and Ireland) and platform partnerships with YouTube, Facebook Live and Freeview is helping to shift products: BT now has 9.3m broadband and 1.75m TV customers. Parr is responsible for content acquisition, encoding, content security and distribution technology for BT TV & BT Sport.