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Starz recruits Netflix and Lionsgate execs to top team

Starz, a Lionsgate company, has added Netflix’s Darren Nielson and Lionsgate’s Jeff Cooke to its International Digital Networks team.

Darren Nielson

Nielson will join as senior VP of distribution and business development. Based in the company’s Santa Monica office, he will lead this element of the business for the Starz-branded digital and linear services and channels.

Working closely with executive VP Superna Kalle, he will develop expansion strategies, identify and evaluate partner opportunities, and source and negotiate distribution agreements with in-territory partners.

Nielson previously served as director of content acquisition at Netflix, helping grow the service from a domestic DVD business into a global leader in streaming video. He was instrumental in launching and building Netflix across Europe and Asia and managed global licensing relationships with major studios and local partners across both film and TV series.

Cooke joins as VP of programming, where he will oversee programming for the international expansion of the Starz direct-to-consumer subscription service to new global markets.

He will define and implement the content strategies across all international territories and identify key programming initiatives through data insights and analytics. Also based in the Santa Monica office, Cooke will curate content that defines the Starz brand in each region and capitalise on global trends and strategies.

Cooke will continue to work with London-based Brett Marottoli, head of programme acquisitions, to identify and acquire additional content for the newly launched Starzplay platform in the UK.

He recently served as vice president of Global Digital at Lionsgate. Prior to Lionsgate, he held positions at Miramax and MGM.

“Darren and Jeff bring a wealth of global acumen and skill to this international team at a time of significant growth for our company and our brand,” said Kalle. “I look forward to exploring new opportunities around the world for our content across digital and linear platforms with them on board.”