Business

Ten Network chief digital officer Rebekah Horne resigns to join NRL

 Rebekah Horne, the architect of Ten Network Holding's digital strategy, has resigned to join the NRL as chief digital officer.

Ms Horne launched Ten's online catch-up and streaming service tenplay, during her time as chief digital officer at the broadcaster.

Her move to the NRL comes as the code prepares to take back control of its digital assets, including the NRL.com and club websites, under the terms of its new broadcast deal.

Ms Horne's resignation from Ten is the first senior executive departure from the third-placed network since Paul Anderson took over as CEO last year.

Mr Anderson said in the statement: "Rebekah and her team have done a great job over the past three years, launching tenplay in September 2013 and building it into one of the leading online entertainment services in Australia.

"From a standing start less than three years ago, tenplay now covers more distribution platforms than any other online television service. Last year, tenplay generated an average of 25 million page views and 13.5 million video views a month."

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"Rebekah is leaving Ten with our thanks for her great contribution and our best wishes for the future."

Under its new broadcast deal, the NRL and its clubs will be able to keep revenue from digital sources such as advertising, which is now primarily sold by rights holder Telstra as part of the existing broadcast contract. Telstra and the NRL also have a joint venture media unit that provides news, statistical and video content.

Telstra will maintain digital broadcast rights to mobile phones and tablets as part of the five-year, $1.8 billion rights deal the NRL signed with Fox Sports, Nine Entertainment Co and Telstra, but the NRL itself will have more direct control over the content of digital assets such as websites and social media.

Fox Sports, wholly owned by News Corporation, and Nine will also have digital streaming rights under the new broadcast deal.

Fans' increasing engagement

ARL Commission chairman John Grant said in a statement: "We expect our fans to increasingly engage with rugby league content – including accessing live games, highlights, tipping, ticket purchases and much more – through our digital platforms.

"More than nine million fans now follow the NRL through the NRL Telstra digital network and social media so we are determined to be at the leading edge in providing digital content on our platforms anywhere and any time. "

Ms Horne will take up her new role on February 29.

Ten said that its digital executive producer Liz Baldwin would become general manager, digital, from February 12.

In her new role at Ten, Ms Baldwin will be responsible for the company's digital media business – including tenplay – and will report to Mr Anderson and chief programming officer, Beverley McGarvey.

"We are delighted to welcome Liz to her role. She is one of the best and brightest digital media executives in Australia, with extensive experience in strategy, content and technology," Mr Anderson said.

"Our digital media business has seen significant growth in recent years and Liz is the ideal person to maintain and build on that growth."

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