Digital plan goes global at NBC Uni

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NBC Universal is realigning its digital operations abroad to reflect a greater priority on digital strategy and to position the company for further growth in the burgeoning area.

The latest example of the company's exploits in this arena: The second season of "Heroes" is being made available on the Web to TF1 viewers in France within 24 hours of U.S. broadcast via a VOD streaming or download-to-rent format, all with French subtitles. The Gallic broadcaster and NBC Uni will share in the revenue from the effort.

The revamp was unveiled Tuesday by Universal vice chairman Rick Finkelstein and NBC Universal International president Peter Smith and is part of NBC Uni's ongoing mandate to drive growth across its international businesses.

The reorganization will be structured in two parallel strands: new-media licensing and digital assets.

New-media licensing will be led by Beth Minehart, based in Los Angeles, who has been promoted to executive vp international new media in the NBC Universal International Television Distribution unit. Instrumental in the "Heroes" VOD experiment in France, she will add international electronic sell-through to her responsibilities and lead a regionally focused sales organization responsible for licensing efforts encompassing EST, VOD and SVOD across platforms.

Minehart will report to NBC Universal International Television Distribution president Belinda Menendez on VOD and to Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Pictures Digital Platforms and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, on electronic sell-through.

The digital assets team will be headed by Kevin Obi, based in London, who recently was appointed senior vp digital assets at NBC Uni. He will lead the strategy and development of NBC Uni's branded digital assets in the international market, reporting to Roma Khanna, who recently was tapped as president of NBC Universal Global Networks and Digital Initiatives. This strategy includes the creation and expansion of broadband and wireless assets.

Obi has a dotted reporting line to NBC Uni chief digital officer George Kliavkoff.

"These new divisions address the growth in the digital marketplace," Finkelstein said. "We've simplified our operational structure, resulting in two clear divisions, one for new-media licensing and one for branded assets. We hope this makes it easier for our customers and potential partners to conduct business with us."

Minehart most recently was senior vp international on-demand licensing at the company's international TV arm. She has held executive positions within several divisions since first joining Universal Studios in 1997. Before Universal, Minehart was with Fox.

Obi's previous roles include strategic and business development activities for telecoms and new-media organizations in the U.K., including Orange U.K.
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