Tony DiSanto’s Allyance Media Taps Verizon Veteran Shawn Strickland as President (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety

Todd Spangler
June 26, 2019

Shawn Strickland, a veteran of Verizon and Complex Media, has joined Tony DiSanto’s Allyance Media Group as president. In the role, Strickland is heading up business operations and spearheading partnerships for the multiformat media and production company.

DiSanto and financier Matthew Bruderman formed Allyance Media Group last year. The New York-based company encompasses DIGA Studios, the production shingle DiSanto and Bruderman acquired back from the U.K.’s ITV. DIGA, the company behind “Teen Wolf” and “Scream,” has multiple productions in development including “50 States of Terror” from executive producer Sam Raimi for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s Quibi.

Strickland, who quietly started at AMG this past February, previously spent more than two decades at Verizon or Verizon-affiliated companies (including Complex Media, a joint venture between the telco and Hearst). He helped land Allyance Media Group’s financing and production partnership with real-estate giant Nest Seekers International. Under that pact, the companies are jointly developing and producing unscripted real-estate lifestyle formats, partially funded by Nest Seekers, for TV and streaming distribution.

“Shawn is an incredible person to work with. He has the perfect mix of the business side and the creative side,” DiSanto said. “This moment in time feels so exciting as a content creator. It feels like the next iteration of the cable and home-video explosion in the ’80s.”

Strickland said he first began working with DiSanto and DIGA Studios two years ago, when he was Complex’s EVP of development and distribution. “When Tony launched AMG to capitalize on the rapidly increasing demand for content, I had to be part of it,” said Strickland. “Among independent producers, AMG is uniquely poised to pair creative storytelling with innovative business models as a major point of difference for global distribution platforms.”

AMG currently has three shows in development with Nest Seekers, including a real-estate show set in a beach community for a “global streaming platform,” according to Strickland. The pact was inspired by Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” reality show from World of Wonder Productions, which has featured Nest Seekers power broker Ryan Serhant.

The series with Nest Seekers are a form of branded content, a model Strickland said helps offset total production costs. AMG is currently in talks with brands in other categories about similar deals. “This lets us come to market faster and preserve the value of the intellectual property,” Strickland said.

DiSanto said co-production partnerships with brands represent a potentially big new growth area for Allyance Media Group. “I felt for us to succeed as an independent production company… we wanted to be creatively fluid and diverse, but also fluid in terms of our business model.”

The company’s other key personnel include Tommy Coriale, head of DIGA Studios, who was recently named AMG’s EVP of production and reports jointly to Strickland and DiSanto. The team also includes head of scripted A.J. Morewitz (who hails from Lionsgate Television); head of unscripted Nick Rigg, Stacey Altman, SVP of unscripted development; and Andrew Portnoy (formerly with Viacom) as SVP of production.

At Complex Media, Strickland led the commissioning of more than 300 hours of premium programming. Prior to joining Complex in 2016, he served in a number of leadership roles at Verizon, including head of product strategy and innovation and head of video products. He also led the original team that launched FiOS TV across the telco’s footprint and served as CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon, the short-lived streaming-video JV with Redbox. Strickland holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia University.