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Venu Sports Streaming Venture Fills Out Executive Roster With Appointments Across Departments

Venu Sports, a streaming joint venture of Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney, has announced a number of executive hires across departments.

The new hires join a team of more than 150 engineers and executives focused on Venu but working at Fox, some of whom are expected to join the venture down the line. Venu is planning to launch this fall, bringing together linear feeds of 14 sports-heavy networks. The price and launch date have not been announced, and the service is not a comprehensive solution for sports fans, given that NBCUniversal and Paramount Global are not a part of it.

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The new team, including heads of technology, finance, legal, people and communications, will report to CEO Pete Distad. “Getting the chance to assemble the starting lineup for the management team responsible for building the Venu organization, creating the culture, setting the pace of innovation, and ultimately, fueling the growth behind our forthcoming service has been an incredible opportunity,” Distad said in a press release. “We searched for people with an entrepreneurial spirit who could bring diverse perspectives to Venu Sports with experience launching beloved consumer products and growing high-performing teams, and brought together a group of all-stars in their respective fields.”

One hire was announced last month: former Disney and SiriusXM exec Jessica Casano-Antonellis, who came aboard as SVP and Head of Communications, leading all communications efforts for Venu.

The other new additions include:

Brian Borkowski, Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for marketing, branding and growth strategies to launch and grow Venu Sports. He previously led marketing at FanDuel and held multiple roles at Hulu, including VP Media and Acquisition and Head of Subscriber Acquisition.

Tim Connolly, Chief Business Officer, responsible for steering the strategic initiatives, including content rights and licensing, distribution and strategic partnerships, business development, subscriber growth, and retention strategies. Prior to joining Venu, Tim led subscriber growth for Apple TV+ and MLS Season Pass at Apple, and also held senior leadership positions at Hulu, and The Walt Disney Company.

Amit Dudakia, Senior Vice President and Head of Product, responsible for all facets of product management and design, along with programming and editorial for the service. He previously held various product leadership roles across Fox Corp. and its portfolio of entertainment brands, most recently serving as SVP of Product Management for Fox Technology & Digital, where he led the product and design organization for Fox Sports. Dudakia’s time with Fox Corp. began with FX Networks, where was a key member of the launch team behind FX Now, Simpsons World, and FX+.

Skarpi Hedinsson, Chief Technology Officer, responsible for the technology strategy and execution for the sports streaming service, including building out a world-class team of technologists. Prior to joining Venu, Hedinsson was the CTO of the Los Angeles Rams and led the team responsible for the vision, design and implementation of technology throughout Hollywood Park, which includes SoFi Stadium. Prior to joining the Rams, Skarpi served as the CTO, Disney/ABC Television Group and contributed to the launch of the Watch ABC and Watch Disney services.

David Hillman, Chief Legal Officer, overseeing all legal matters. Prior to joining Venu, Hillman was a key member of the corporate legal executive management team at Paramount Global, where he most recently served as EVP and General Counsel for CBS Sports, CBS News and Stations and Broadcast Operations. Before joining CBS, David held the position of EVP and General Counsel at both Simon & Schuster and Westwood One.

Gautam Ranji, Chief Financial Officer and will oversee all aspects of the financial operations for the sports venture. Prior to joining Venu, Ranji served as CFO and Treasurer for Sphere Entertainment, where he led all finance functions and was part of the management team which launched the Sphere in Las Vegas. Previously, Gautam held senior leadership positions at CBS, where he oversaw strategic planning and business development, and co-led the merger integration following the combination of Viacom and CBS (now Paramount Global). He has also held senior posts at the Hearst Corporation and Viacom.

Judy Schwab, Senior Vice President and Head of People, overseeing all aspects of Venu Sports’ employee strategy and operations. That area encompasses workforce planning, organizational effectiveness, talent acquisition, talent management and development, and total rewards, as well as the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Prior to joining Venu, Schwab worked in HR for Apple’s Services division. She also previously headed up HR for Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer businesses, including ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu, serving as a key member of the executive leadership team that launched Disney+ and integrated Hulu.

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