50 VOD Professionals 2024

By Published On: June 4th, 2024

Nominated by you, adjudicated by a specialist panel, this is our latest list of the most influential people working in the UK’s OTT industry over the past 12 months.

Featuring Amazon, Apple, the BBC, BritBox, Channel 4, DAZN, Everyone TV, Google, ITV, Metaphysic, Netflix, NOW, Pluto TV, Samsung, Sky, STUDIOCANAL, TiVo, Virgin Media, Warner Bros Discovery, YouTube and a range of independent streamers, vendors and service-providers.


#1. Faz Aftab

Director G1, Photos, TV & Android Enterprise


At last! Faz Aftab, the Director of G1 & Photos, TV, and Android Enterprise at Google, has been a regular Top 10-er on this list and she ascends to the #1 slot after a year of conference appearances (including opening the show at our own OTT Question Time Live event in January), presentations and insightful LinkedIn posts.

Since starting in September 2021, Aftab has been instrumental in developing Media and Entertainment partnerships across Google’s Platforms and Devices. In her current role, she leads efforts to scale the G1 subscription business, which includes AI Premium, TV Platforms, and Android Enterprise, driving subscriber growth and shaping product roadmaps.

Prior to Google, she was at ITV, where she served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Distribution from 2011 to 2021. Her tenure at ITV was marked by significant achievements, including her role as Chair of Freesat, where she successfully led the merger of Freesat (a BBC/ITV Joint Venture) with ETV (a joint venture involving BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5).

Aftab brings over 20 years of experience to her role, with a background spanning television, streaming, and Direct to Consumer sectors. This includes seven years focused on the international expansion of startups. She is also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion within the technology sector.

#2. Anne Mensah

VP Content


The vast majority of our content spend is still into original programming, and it is likely to continue to be,” said Netflix’s CFO Spencer Neumann in April.

Anne Mensah has the enviable task of allocating a portion of this budget, estimated to be around $17bn this year. As UK Content Vice President, she leads the teams across all genres – scripted series, film, unscripted, documentaries and licensed programmes.

Mensah joined Netflix in 2018 and oversees all Netflix UK commissions including BAFTA, Emmy & Golden Globe award winning Netflix drama The Crown and BAFTA award winning Netflix series Sex Education .

Prior to this, she was Director of Drama and Sky Studios at Sky UK where she commissioned a wide variety of internationally acclaimed dramas such as BAFTA award winning Patrick Melrose starring Benedict Cumberbatch for Sky/Showtime and BAFTA and Emmy award winning Sky/HBO drama, Chernobyl.

Before joining Sky, Mensah served as Head of Independent Drama at the BBC as well as Head of Drama for BBC Scotland.

Mensah is a trustee of Into Film, Vice President of Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, trustee of Mission 44, as well as a member of the 2018 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.

#3. Kerensa Samanidis

General Manager


Kerensa Samanidis is GM for BBC iPlayer where she oversees strategy, growth and overall operation of the service. Last financial year, programmes were streamed a record 8.1 billion times, up 10% on the year before, suggesting that whatever Samanidis and her colleagues are doing, it’s working for viewers!

Prior to taking up the reins at the BBC, Samanidis was working with Channel 4 to develop and implement its international streaming business.

Her long career in the streaming industry began in the early 2000’s where she devised PlayStation’s first video-on-demand strategy. She then held leadership roles at WarnerMedia, AMC Networks and the BFI where she launched and managed a range of international streaming services. Samanidis also ran a successful consulting business with clients including BritBox International, BBC and Channel 4.

#4. Dana Strong

Group CEO


Dana Strong is Group CEO of Sky, now part of Comcast, and has managed both cable and satellite businesses around the world. In doing so, she’s recognised for her track record for accelerating growth. 

Since Strong joined in 2021, Sky has launched two new leading streaming platforms – Sky Glass and Sky Stream which mark a shift from providing content over satellite to via the internet and straight to people’s TVs.

Under her leadership, Sky continues its commitment to the cultural economy, creating award-winning original content, producing the biggest live sporting events, and providing free access to news and the arts. 

A series of landmark sports rights deal have recently been secured by Sky including the broadcast rights to show a record number of Premier League fixtures in a new four-year deal a ground-breaking deal with the EFL; the US Open tennis; Formula 1 to 2029; and the Women’s Super League. Strong has also overseen the expansion of Sky’s long-term partnerships with UK public service broadcasters, as well as new long-term agreements that have brought Apple TV+, Paramount+, and content from Peacock onto Sky’s Entertainment OS platform.

During her tenure, Sky’s business has continued diversifying, with Sky Mobile becoming the fastest growing mobile operator in the UK, the rapid expansion of Sky Broadband’s customer base, and the launch of Sky Protect, a first of its kind smart home protection and insurance service.

#5. Jay Hunt

Creative Director, Europe


Jay Hunt leads the expansion and strategy for Apple Original series developed outside of the US, focusing on productions in Europe and reporting to Apple’s heads of worldwide video, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht.

Hunt champions award-winning, acclaimed programming with global appeal, including the Nielsen Top 10-ranked hit Hijack; widely hailed 2023 BAFTA Television Awards Best Drama winner and Emmy Award-nominee Bad Sisters; multi-BAFTA Award nominee Slow Horses; global event docuseries Prehistoric Planet from Jon Favreau; critically acclaimed drama The Buccaneers; popular globe-trotting travel program The Reluctant Traveller With Eugene Levy; and, family comedy Trying starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith.

Notable upcoming series also include the French-language dramas La Maison and Carême; the second season of multi-lingual French and Japanese drama Drops of God; and Where’s Wanda? which will mark the first German series for Apple TV+.

Prior to joining Apple, Hunt served as chief creative officer at Channel 4, Director of Programmes at Channel 5 and as Controller of BBC One.

#6. Rhys McLachlan

Director of Advanced Advertising


Having recently passed the four year mark of his ITV tenure, Mclachlan, ITV’s Director of Advanced Advertising, has been at the heart of ITV’s digital transformation.

He has been instrumental in the establishment and continued success of Planet V, which was launched in October 2020. Planet V is the UK’s second largest programmatic video platform, accounting for in excess of 95% of ITV’s digital ad revenues. It now offers self-service planning and buying capabilities for more than 1,800 users who can plan and buy campaigns across ITV and its partner STV. (Sky Media, Sky’s advertising sales arm, joined Planet V for a trial period last July.)

In addition to Planet V, Mclachlan manages ITV’s groundbreaking Adlabs innovation unit, responsible for the development and incubation of progressive ad formats. Since its inception in Autumn 2021, Adlabs has pushed out a variety of new ad concepts, ranging from dynamic creative and real-time weather targeting, to the more recent highly publicized retail-media product Matchmaker, developed in collaboration with Boots, Tesco-Dunnhumby and Infosum.

Prior to joining ITV, Mclachlan spent eight years running global business development at the spectacularly icarus-like Videology.

Never shy of expressing an opinion and extending a rallying cry for the TV industry, Mclachlan is a popular speaker at the various conferences and Chatham House sessions he attends.

#7. Lisa Rousseau

Head of Prime Video Advertising & Freevee EU


Lisa Rousseau joined Amazon in March 2021 as Head of Freevee UK, Amazon’s ad funded premium video streaming service, with responsibility for launching Freevee in the UK in September 2021, and leading Freevee’s business and marketing functions. With the launch of Prime Video Advertising in Europe in early 2024, her role has expanded to include leading the Prime Video go to market planning, business strategy and operations, and product packaging strategy in support of advertising on the service across Europe.

Prior to joining Amazon, Rousseau spent seven years at Google. As Head of TV and Film EMEA at YouTube and Google Play, she was responsible for building content partnerships across the region to drive the transactional (TVOD) movies and TV business, launched Google Play Movies & TV across 15 markets, and led the film/TV partnership strategy for YouTube EMEA. She also led YouTube business and partnerships across Northern Europe and Sub Saharan Africa.

Rousseau was previously at the BBC and BBC Studios in a number of commercial and digital business development roles. She is passionate about supporting career opportunities for women, and is a trustee of the Young Women’s Trust charity in the UK.

#8. Chris Bird

MD, Prime Video UK


As MD for Prime Video UK, Chris Bird is responsible for developing the full Prime Video experience for UK users. Overseeing the teams responsible for delivering original content, licensed content, and live sports, as well as marketing, programming and transactional services, his remit is to deliver a broad video offering that meets the needs of all Amazon customers in the UK.

Bird joined Amazon in 2011 and has held a number of senior roles including Worldwide Head of Film Acquisition, and Head of Content for Prime Video Europe.

Prior to Amazon, he was a founding member of LOVEFiLM, (the streaming/DVD rental start-up acquired by Amazon in 2011) and worked in marketing and distribution at NBCU, Sony Pictures and Momentum Pictures.

Bird holds an MA in Cinema from Nottingham Trent University.

#9. Julie Mitchelmore

VP Digital

A+E Networks EMEA

Julie Mitchelmore has spent the last 5 years at A+E Networks EMEA, expanding the company’s products and services. As a VP, Digital, she is responsible for the broadcaster’s EMEA’s D2C, AVOD, SVOD and FAST services.

A dynamic force in the business field, Mitchelmore brings over a decade of senior management expertise, strategy, and product launch success.

Over the last year, Mitchelmore has advanced A+E Networks EMEA’s streaming channel portfolio by launching Crime+Investigation Play and HISTORY Play on YouTube’s Primetime Channels expanding reach to more audiences. The Play brands are already available on Amazon Primetime Channels and Apple TV Channels, with Crime+Investigation Play also accessible direct to consumers.

Mitchelmore has also accelerated the growth of the company’s EMEA’s FAST channel portfolio this year by launching History Hunters and Deal Masters across Freevee, Rakuten, Samsung TV Plus and Virgin Media. This brings the total channels to five available in the UK, adding to Inside Crime, Mystery TV and World War TV.

#10. Erik Huggers

Chairman of the Board

Everyone TV

Erik Huggers is Chairman of Everyone TV, the platform operator for free-to-view television in the UK, owned by the country’s leading public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5.

With an extensive international leadership background in various media and technology companies, he brings a wealth of experience to the role. He currently serves as a senior advisor to EQT Group and holds board positions at Hexagon and WeTransfer, in addition to his role as Chairman at Got Photo and Freepik.

Huggers’s substantial experience in technology was primarily developed during his nine-year tenure at Microsoft, where he held executive positions in both Europe and the US. His move to the BBC in 2007 marked a significant career milestone, spearheading the launch of the BBC iPlayer. Following this, he assumed senior roles at Intel and Verizon, later became the CEO of Vevo.

As the Chairman of Everyone TV, Huggers provides strategic leadership and direction to both the board of directors and the senior management team. Under his aegis, Everyone TV launched Freely, the UK’s new streaming service for free TV, in April 2024.