Shazam Hires PromaxBDA CEO Block-Verk to Lead TV Partnerships

Television marketing association exec joins app company to forge second-screen deals

Jonathan Block Verk Shazam

Shazam Entertainment, looking to get its app more tightly synchronized with the TV biz, has hired Jonathan Block-Verk, president and CEO of television marketing association PromaxBDA, as head of TV partnerships.

Block-Verk joins Shazam in the newly created role of executive VP of strategic partnerships and head of television. He will be responsible for developing strategic business relationships with cable and broadcast programmers and pay-TV operators.

“With his extensive experience working with industry leaders, Jonathan is going to be a tremendous leader of our efforts around TV,” Shazam CEO Rich Riley said.

Shazam is primarily known for its ability to ID songs, using an audio “fingerprint” matching technique. A year ago, the company launched a new initiative to Shazam-enable TV programming and ads across 160 national U.S. channels, offering networks and marketers new ways to engage viewers with additional content and promotions.

London-based Shazam has been building a bigger presence in the States. Riley, a former top Yahoo exec who took the CEO job in April, is based in New York along with other members of the senior management.

In September, Shazam hired Kevin McGurn, formerly senior VP of sales for Hulu, as chief revenue officer. Earlier this year the company recruited Daniel Danker, who had led development of the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service, as its new chief product officer.

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Block-Verk, who is based in L.A., will start at Shazam on Jan. 2, 2014, reporting to McGurn. Prior to joining PromaxBDA in 2007, Block-Verk was publisher and executive producer of events for Boards, a now-defunct advertising production trade magazine.

“What Shazam has built fundamentally solves a lot of major problems in engaging a TV audience with a second-screen experience,” Block-Verk said. “What the company really needed was someone who is entrenched in the television business and understands how television brands are evolving.”

Unique among second-screen TV apps, Shazam has a sizable user base: It has been downloaded more than 400 million times worldwide, and in October more than 20 million people in the U.S. used the app.

Now the company wants to drive up TV interactions through the app. Last week, users “Shazamed” the CMA Awards kudocast on ABC about 500,000 times to get exclusive content and downloads from the featured musicians, and Shazam said 10% of those subsequently purchased music. In other recent deal, Fox, FremantleMedia North America and Syco Entertainment picked Shazam to let “X Factor” viewers cast votes through the app.

PromaxBDA has initiated a search to find a new CEO. Block-Verk said he will continue to work with the marketing association through the end of 2013. PromaxBDA’s co-chairs are Warner Bros. Television Group chief marketing officer Lisa Gregorian and Fox Broadcasting chief operating officer Joe Earley.

At PromaxBDA, Block-Verk launched Station Summit and Sports Media Marketing Summit, and also expanded the organization’s reach throughout Europe and Latin America.