Blue Ant hires BBC Studios & Fremantle alum Jon Penn to lead expanded APAC business

Big Cats, Small World

Canada’s Blue Ant Media is expanding its Asia Pacific business and has set up a new office in Sydney, Australia, with former BBC Studios exec Jon Penn taking the newly created role of managing director, APAC.

Penn will be responsible for content sales and expanding the reach of Blue Ant’s branded channels across Asia Pacific, which include the Love Nature brand, which recently co-commissioned factual title Big Cats, Small World, and its portfolio of FAST channels, including NatureTime, HauntTV, Homeful, Love Pets, Total Crime and HistoryTime.

The new division will combine the company’s channel distribution and content sales operations in the region into one unit.

Jon Penn

Penn will lead teams in Sydney and Singapore, while also developing the company’s production business strategy in Australia and advising on regional co-production opportunities.

He reports to Carlyn Staudt, head of commissioning, global media, & general manager at Love Nature, and Mark Bishop, co-president of Blue Ant Studios.

Penn, who joins Blue Ant having been a partner at venture capital firm ACT Media Ventures, previously worked with the Toronto-based firm as an advisor, assisting with the launch of the Love Nature pay TV channel in Australia and the roll-out of FAST channels.

Prior to that he spent 10 years with BBC Studios, including three years as EVP of Asia Pacific for global distribution, and led partnership development in China with tech giants Bilibili and Bytedance.

He also established BBC Studios’ production presence in Australia, developing hit children’s brand Bluey and overseeing the launch of BritBox Australia. He left in 2021 when BBCS consolidated its APAC and EMEA distribution regions into a single business, with Nick Percy taking control.

Penn also worked at Fremantle for 11 years including four years as CEO, Fremantle International, Asia Pacific.

New team structure

Reporting to Penn will be Jason Soh, who has been appointed as VP of distribution, Asia, based in Singapore. Soh will be responsible for content sales and distribution of Love Nature as well as developing Blue Ant Media’s FAST channel portfolio in Asia.

Carlyn Staudt

He previously served as global channels and distribution director in APAC for WildBrain and has held senior roles with WarnerMedia, HBO, Disney and Nickelodeon.

Nick Solowski, senior director, international sales & acquisitions, will meanwhile continue his multi-regional content sales responsibilities but now will report into Penn regarding business in the Asia Pacific markets of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Morgan Jacobson is also joining Penn’s team as senior specialist, programming and affiliate marketing for APAC, having relocated to Sydney from Love Nature’s Washington DC office.

“Jon is an exceptional commercial leader and his high-level experience in growing revenue streams and market share will be invaluable as we broaden Blue Ant Media’s business in this key region,” said Staudt.

“The team Jon has established brings together international sales experience and a keen knowledge of the brand, which sets up an incredible opportunity to grow a multi-faceted sales hub in Asia Pacific that places customers first with a myriad of content solutions.”

The changes come a month after Blue Ant acquired fellow Canadian producer Marblemedia, as well as its sales division Distribution360, and a year since the Toronto firm picked up UK-based Drive.

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