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YouTube Taps Netflix’s Kelly Merryman for Top Content Job

Netflix is losing a top executive for content acquisition to YouTube, according to sources.

Kelly Merryman, who has led the charge building the subscription VOD service’s content libraries across its rapidly growing global footprint for the past seven years, has been named VP of content partnerships at the Google-owned company. A rep for YouTube confirmed the hire.

She’ll be reuniting with Robert Kyncl, head of content and business operations at YouTube, who she previously worked with at Netflix, where she rose to VP of content acquisitions for Europe. Based in YouTube’s Beverly Hills offices, she begins in January, reporting to Kyncl.

The defection puts Merryman in a new key role as YouTube’s lead exec managing relations with media companies big and small throughout the world, from conglomerates to the upstarts amassing huge audiences on the platform. It’s a high visibility position, particularly at a time when YouTube is optimizing its platform to remain the go-to hub worldwide and content firms are exploring alternative or additional digital distribution solutions.

Merryman comes in after a year of considerable executive shuffling at YouTube from the top down, starting with new CEO Susan Wojcicki, who arrived in February. She is in part stepping in to fill the vacancy created by Tom Pickett, VP of content at YouTube, who exited in September for a new role at Otter Media, the venture co-owned by AT&T and Chernin Group.

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YouTube’s content partnerships team was also impacted mid-year by the shift of Alex Carloss, who took on a new role focusing on original content at YouTube, where he has subsequently built a new team underneath him.

Reporting to Merryman are lead execs for content partnerships across the world for YouTube, including Laura Lee, John Farrell, Gautam Anand, Stephen Nuttall, Jon Zepp and Jamie Byrne. North America, which was previously split between Lee and Malik Ducard, is now led by Lee alone now since Ducard shifted to a different role leading YouTube’s kids and learning division six months ago.

YouTube has also made a flurry of changes on the engineering side of its business throughout the year. The latest: Eyal Manor, a key player at Google-owned DoubleClick, joins as VP of engineering at YouTube.

Netflix recently hired former Vuguru CEO Larry Tanz to join as VP of content acquisitions for Europe, where Merryman was instrumental in stocking the content vaults for the SVOD service’s many overseas extensions. Tanz is part of a team led by Merryman, who reported to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

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