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Awesomeness staffs up Verizon content venture

The upcoming AwesomenessTV and Verizon mobile content venture has drafted in the former drama department head at Universal Television.

Russell RothbergRussell Rothberg (pictured) has been named senior VP, creative for the currently unnamed service.

He exited NBCUniveral’s production arm earlier this year, following president Bela Bajaria out of the door. Bajaria recently resurfaced at another digital programming service, Netflix.

The hire further bolsters Verizon’s ranks with top-level network executives. Rothberg will report to Samie Kim Falvey, who joined the company in August from ABC Entertainment, where she was executive VP, comedy development and international scripted development, as chief content officer.

AwesomenessTV, which operates successful online channels for kids and teens, sold a 24.5% stake to US telco Verizon in April and revealed plans for the VOD service, which will be part of Verizon’s go90 platform offer.

The service will offer premium short-form mobile content, with Rothberg overseeing development and production across genres. At Universal TV, he was EVP, drama development, recently helming series such as Bates Motel, Chicago Fire and the forthcoming Netflix drama Gypsy.

“Russell’s ability to connect with creators has made him a stand-out executive in the industry, and I am thrilled to have him join our team,” said Falvey. “Together we will create exceptional mobile-friendly programming with the best auspices for our new platform.”

“AwesomenessTV has changed the way youth audiences are watching their favorite series and films,” said Rothberg. “I am honored to be joining such a successful and innovative company, and I am excited to be part of this new endeavour.”

Verizon yesterday announced it had acquired Vessel, the online video platform that former Hulu bosses Jason Kilar and Richard Tom founded.