VyRT, a hybrid streaming/social media site that Leto founded in 2011, will be part of the new arrangement. “As a longtime Fandor subscriber, I developed a special appreciation for their distinctive programming and recommendation engine,” Leto said in a press release. “Specifically, the ‘human element’ that sets Fandor apart from so many other services in this space, most of which are purely algorithmic.”
In this new role, Leto will “be integral in establishing the creative voice that defines Fandor,” the release said. In addition to providing input on original programming, Leto will host one of Fandor’s live streaming events slated for later this year.
“Jared joins us at a critical time in Fandor’s evolution,” said Larry Aidem, president & CEO of Fandor. With the launch of our new look and feel on and off the Fandor platform, we are ready to move to series production. Jared brings his love of movies, his passion for music, and his keen eye to Fandor’s audience.” The former Sundance Channel chief invoked his onetime uber-boss Robert Redford. “I’m struck by Jared’s similarly multi-dimensional artistry–actor, filmmaker, musician, producer–and remarkably broad fan base… not to mention his tech chops.”
The company faces considerable competition in the streaming space, but it has made some moves since Aidem succeeded Ted Hope as CEO in the fall of 2015. (Hope is now at Amazon.) Later in 2015, Chairman Chris Kelly, formerly Facebook’s general counsel, announced that Fandor had completed a $7 million round of funding with premium cable network Starz as the lead investor.
Fandor features a rotating selection from its library of some 6,000 features and shorts in its subscription apps for Android, iOS and connected-TV devices like Roku and Chromecast. Last fall it also rolled out on Amazon Channels, giving it access to tens of millions of potential subscribers.
Leto’s appointment was derided in some corners of Movie Twitter. “Just deleted the fandor app off my phone and then threw my phone in the trash and then threw the trash into the ocean,” tweeted David Ehrlich of IndieWire in one typical response. “In DC’s wildest move yet,” joked New York Times critic Glenn Kenny, “Fandor becomes the official streaming service of Bizarro World.”