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Starz ups Darren Nielson and Jeff Cooke for growing SVoD StarzPlay

Lionsgate-owned Starz has elevated Darren Nielson to executive VP of distribution and business development and Jeff Cooke to senior VP of programming for international networks.

Jeff Cooke

The Santa Monica-based execs joined Starz as senior VP of distribution and business development and VP of international programming respectively in 2018.

Since then Nielson has spearheaded the growth of Starz-branded digital and linear services, including the launch of the Starzplay SVoD platform in Canada, Latin America and Europe.

StarzPlay now has a footprint in more than 60 countries, with Nielson structuring and overseeing deals and partnerships with global OTT platforms such as Amazon and Apple as well as local pay TV operators and telcos including Telefonica, Orange, Virgin, Claro and Vodafone.

Prior to his arrival at Starz, Nielson was director of content acquisition at Netflix, where he managed licensing agreements with major studios and local partners during an eight-year stint with the streamer. Before that he was a director of business development at Sony Pictures Television.

Cooke has been overseeing original programming for StarzPlay, implementing the service’s content strategy across all territories and leading its move into local-language originals, including a growing slate of Spanish-language original series.

Darren Nielson

He was previously the VP of global digital at Starz parent company Lionsgate and before that held positions at Miramax and MGM.

“These are two well-deserved promotions that recognise Darren and Jeff’s invaluable and integral contributions to the success of StarzPlay since our launch more than three years ago,” said Superna Kalle, president of international networks at Starz.

“Darren has achieved major success in expanding our partner and territory reach to more than 60 countries around the globe and Jeff has built an incredible track record developing and managing the success of our strong and curated slate of scripted global programming.”


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