Ovation Appoints Brad Samuels EVP of Distribution
Santa Monica, CA -- January 9, 2012 Building on the momentum of numerous new launches in 2011, Ovation is announcing the appointment of veteran cable executive Brad Samuels to the newly created position of EVP, Distribution. In addition, Chad Gutstein, who was an original member of the team that acquired Ovation in 2006 and has been its EVP ever since, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. The announcement was made today by Charles Segars, CEO, Ovation.
Based in Ovation’s New York offices, Samuels will be responsible for leading the network’s distribution efforts across all platforms. He will be working closely with the company’s senior distribution team, including Dan Casciato, VP of National Accounts, based in Chicago, Greg Bunch, VP of Distribution, Western Region, based in Los Angeles; Pam Tapscott-Lassiter, Director of Distribution, based in New York; and Oscar Ordaz, Director of Distribution, based in Austin, TX. Samuels reports directly to Gutstein. Ellen Schned, formerly SVP of Distribution, is pursuing a career as a cable consultant and will continue to work with the company on distribution strategy.
“I have been very impressed with Ovation’s remarkable growth over the past five years. Through the network’s well-defined brand, focused programming strategy and partnerships with major cultural institutions, they have transformed from a fledging independent network to a highly valued and uniquely positioned service with excellent support from the pay-TV distributor community,” said Samuels. “That said, there’s a lot more to do and I’m looking forward to joining the Ovation management team to lead the effort to drive Ovation’s distribution into more homes and new platforms.”
Samuels joins Ovation from MSG Media, which operates MSG Networks and Fuse, where he was Executive Vice President, Content Distribution and responsible for maximizing the channels’ distribution and related revenue across multiple platforms. Prior to that, he was head of affiliate sales and marketing at TV One. Under his guidance, distribution grew to more than 40 million subscribers in just two years from launch. Previously, Samuels spent more than 10 years in affiliate relations at Comedy Central, serving as EVP, Affiliate Relations from 1998 to 2003. Among his many accomplishments were the innovative and successful PPV and VOD initiatives he spearheaded on behalf of the channel.
“Brad joins our network at a pivotal time. We’ve just hit the 46 million subscriber mark and we’re committed to accelerating our growth to hit 50 million in 2012,” said Gutstein. “We feel strongly that his remarkable track record and leadership skills will be help us meet those goals if not exceed them.”
Gutstein was part of the original team that crafted the deal to acquire Ovation in 2006.
Over the past five years, he has managed the channel’s overall business operations, and has overseen its arts industry relations, digital and on-demand business, business and corporate development, finance, operations, legal & business affairs, administration and human resources.
“Chad and I came together six years ago to build the best arts network in the America. Chad’s dedication to growing Ovation’s business is grounded not only in his deep understanding and experience in media investment and operations, but also in his love of the arts and strong belief that the arts should be accessible to everyone,” said Segars. “His promotion to COO is well deserved and I look forward to working with him on new and innovative ways to move our business forward.”
Prior to joining Ovation, Gutstein was President and Founder of Entertainment Media Advisors, a consultancy firm whose mission was to provide strategy, business development and capital advisory services to companies operating in the media and entertainment industries. Before that, he was Senior Vice President of BuyTV, a start-up home shopping TV network created in partnership with Buy.com. Previously, he was a Principal at WaterView Advisors, a $250mm private equity fund that made investments in the media, entertainment and communications industries. At WaterView, he was instrumental in the development, funding and launch of Tennis Channel, and served as Interim CFO for both Tennis Channel and Creative Planet.