SkyShowtime — the joint venture between Comcast and Paramount Global — has unveiled key hires for the European streaming service, including its head of programming.
BBC Select executive Jon Farrar has been named head of programming, Variety can reveal. The executive joins from BBC Studios, where he led the direct-to-consumer programming strategy in his dual role as global VOD director and editor-in-chief of North American SVOD service BBC Select.
Farrar was also part of the team that developed BritBox, the streaming joint venture between BBC Studios and ITV.
Reporting into SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan, Farrar will be responsible for programming strategy, overseeing the platform’s pipeline of studio content, and building a programming team across SkyShowtime’s 20 markets to develop original and local content. Farrar will also lead the acquisitions, scheduling and editorial, as well as content operations functions.
First unveiled in August 2021, SkyShowtime is intended to sit in the European markets that aren’t already serviced by Paramount+. The streaming service, which is set to launch in Europe later this year, will feature the TV premieres of first-run theatrical films from Paramount and Universal; new scripted series from Showtime, Paramount+, Sky Studios and Peacock; local original programming; and kids and family programming from Nickelodeon, DreamWorks and Illumination.
Farrar said: “I am so thrilled to be taking up this role which, for a fan of great program, is the most exciting job in European streaming. I cannot wait to start working with Monty and the team on how we take a unique approach to bring SkyShowtime, with its brilliant content pipeline, to audiences across the continent.”
Elsewhere, Raquel Berzosa has been appointed regional general manager for Iberia, and will be responsible for expanding SkyShowtime in Spain and Portugal.
She will build and lead the regional distribution and partnerships group, and oversee marketing and content across Iberia. She joins from NBCUniversal International Networks and DTC, where she was VP of affiliate sales and country lead for Iberia. Berzosa has extensive experience negotiating with partners in Spain and Portugal, and helped to launch the Universal+ on-demand service, which is currently available on three of the four main platforms in Spain.
Based in Madrid, Berzosa will also report to Sarhan. She joins Gabor Harsanyi and Henriette Petersen, regional general managers for Central Eastern Europe and North Europe, respectively.
Berzosa said: “This role is a dream come true for someone who is as passionate about entertainment as I am. I am thrilled to be joining Monty’s leadership team. The interest from distributors has been overwhelming and I look forward to bringing SkyShowtime’s amazing content to our audiences in Spain and Portugal.”
Finally, Richard Thurston also joins SkyShowtime as chief HR officer. Thurston joins the team after 10 years at Sky where he held several leadership roles, including his most recent group role as HR director. Before joining Sky, Thurston worked for the BBC as HR director of the BBC News Group, supporting teams across the globe. Prior to this, he spent 7 years at ITV. Thurston will report to Sarhan.
Thurston said: “I was fortunate enough to have been involved in laying the foundations of SkyShowtime since inception, so the opportunity to continue to be part of the journey of this unique business as it grows and connects to customers is hugely exciting. I am passionate about creating inclusive, supportive environments, where people can be themselves, innovate and grow. I look forward to working with the rest of the leadership team and welcoming great talent to SkyShowtime.”
Sarhan said: “A company’s greatest resource is its people and one of my top priorities has been to recruit individuals with a record of proven leadership to join SkyShowtime. These three talented individuals are all accomplished leaders who put people first—from our subscribers to our teammates—and I am proud that they will be joining us as we build the next great streaming service for Europe.
SkyShowtime will eventually be available in Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Paramount+ will be available in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.