Mike Sneesby, currently the head of Australian streamer Stan, has been appointed CEO of its parent group Nine Entertainment. His elevation follows the imminent departure of Hugh Marks and other board room changes at the one of the country’s largest media groups.
Marks, who presided over the transformation of Nine from a legacy TV group into a broadcast, publishing and digital player through the acquisition of newspaper giant Fairfax, will depart at the end of the month. He resigned following revelations that he was in an intimate relationship with a former member of staff.
In recent days, non-executive board member Patrick Allaway also resigned, and local media published suggestions of an ongoing split between Nine and Fairfax executives. Another executive is also under investigation for alleged misuse of corporate benefits.
“Under Mike’s leadership, Nine will be able to maintain the strong momentum it has built in audience, subscribers, content, revenue and earnings,” Nine chairman Peter Costello said at a presentation on Wednesday. “Mike is well placed to continue to drive Nine’s transformation as a digitally led business which is actively adapting to meet the contemporary media consumption habits of Australians.”
Sneesby has been with Stan, which was previously co-owned by Nine and Fairfax, since its origins eight years ago. It has survived and grown in an English-language streaming market that was quickly penetrated and is now dominated by Netflix. Stan now has 2.3 million subscribers and last year launched a separate sports streaming service which challenges pay-TV incumbent Foxtel.
In August last year, Sneesby reported that the streamer was cash flow positive and would be expanding its slate of local original productions.
“As part of our strategy to bring the world’s best content to Australians, we will shift greater investment into Stan Original productions through our local and international partnerships,” said Sneesby, at the time. He announced five new titles for the current financial year, and said that the slate would reach 30 originals per annum within five years.