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Longtime MTV Executive Van Toffler Is Going to Make Videos for Otter Media

After nearly 30 years building MTV and other networks, he's headed to the Internet.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Van Toffler spent his career running some of the most important networks on TV. Now he’s moving to the Internet.

Toffler, a longtime executive at Viacom who left a year ago, is joining the Otter Media digital video company, where he will run Gunpowder & Sky, “a global studio creating and distributing innovative, edgy and narrative-driven content independent of form, genre or platform.”

In English, that appears to mean that Toffler will oversee an assortment of original video productions, ranging from traditional films to 90-second snippets. Otter Media, run by longtime News Corp. executive Peter Chernin and backed by at least $500 million from AT&T, already had deals with Supergravity, a studio that specializes in direct-to-consumer films. Now it is folding in relationships with outfits like Adaptive Studios, the company behind last year’s reboot of “Project Greenlight” on HBO.

Toffler’s group will operate alongside Otter Media’s existing businesses: Fullscreen, the YouTube video network and a group of subscription video services like Crunchyroll.

Toffler spent 28 years at Viacom. He helped build MTV and its related networks in the 1990s, when the programmer began shifting away from a steady diet of music videos toward reality shows like “The Real World” and popular oddities like “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

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