The New York-based executive will report to Howard Mittman, who was named CEO of Bleacher Report last month. Toles comes to Bleacher Report from MGM, where he was SVP of Digital & New Platforms. He developed the original programming strategy for MGM’s direct-to-consumer platforms, including Stargate Command, and led the effort to secure the first original programming slate for Walmart’s Vudu platform.
Prior to MGM, Toles was SVP and GM of Vimeo’s Entertainment Group, whose slate of originals on his watch included High Maintenance, which was picked up and adapted by HBO after its initial run on Vimeo. Toles also worked in theatrical marketing at New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. and home entertainment marketing at Paramount Pictures and Rhino. He was VP of Business Development at FremantleMedia, overseeing media licensing for brands including American Idol, America’s Got Talent and The Price Is Right.
Turner paid about $175 million to acquire Bleacher Report in 2012, and has integrated it into its broadcasts of NBA, NCAA and Major League Baseball games. Given the competition from ESPN and other digital upstarts, it has managed to reach a noteworthy scale, with Turner claiming it now reaches 250 million people across all digital and social platforms. In recent months, Bleacher Report has launched subscription streaming offering BR Live and set a partnership to develop sports betting content from a branded studio in the Caesars Palace Las Vegas sports book.
Toles will help Bleacher Report in its drive toward “capturing, reflecting, and defining the relationship between sports and culture, while delivering it to fans wherever they are: social, mobile, or online,” Mittman said. “Sam is going to help us amplify this voice and develop a disciplined system through which we can create new, compelling content and support our amazing talent pool of creators.”
Toles added, “There is no company positioned as well as Bleacher Report to capture and captivate young audiences hungering for a fresh perspective on the sports and culture they crave. I could not be more excited to build upon Bleacher Report’s amazing success and will be laser focused on serving deeply passionate audiences by connecting them to diverse, multi-talented creators across all forms of media and distribution.”