A Peek Behind the Curtain of Industry Leader Quickplay

The evolving media landscape is always a fascinating study. I had a chance to speak with Paul Pastor, who gave me a glimpse behind the evolution of Hulu, which set the stage for his current passion, called Quickplay, where he is one of the top executives. He likes to say that he only plays an engineer on TV and he really comes from the media side.

When he was at Disney with Anne Sweeney, frequency spectrum was becoming more readily available and the strategic move was to take Disney television content into a direct cable offering. It became evident that getting Disney in front of more TV eyeballs resulted in the classic example of synergy: more people were exposed to what was going on at the Disney theme parks and elsewhere in the Disney universe, a perfect flywheel effect reflected in a burgeoning corporate bottom line. In turn, that prompted new intellectual property, such as High School Musical and Hannah Montana.

Paul Pastor, Chief Business Officer at Quickplay

On his first day running the ABC TV portfolio the first question put to Pastor was whether the company should invest in Hulu. As his role grew to include convincing other content providers to join Hulu, Pastor apparently received a refrain of “Fuck you, I’m calling Bob.”

Over drinks and off the record I will enjoy talking with Pastor about the last two Bobs in the Disney driver seat.

But back to Hulu. Pastor and the team put together deals and Hulu was launched, but “we were unsure we liked the baby after birthing it.” Pastor babysat the project and looked after Hulu’s media spend, strategy, research, data and analytics but eventually he left to work with Rich Ross at Discovery in the number two position. Pastor had a very successful run looking over programming.

Turning to his current work at Quickplay, Pastor described the vast difference between the landscape in 2011 when Hulu launched and the drastic changes in the landscape by 2018, when strong headwinds were buffeting new entrants in the delivery of media. Netflix and Amazon and a host of OTT offerings were crowding the marketplace. Indeed, the worldwide over-the-top (OTT) business is expected to be worth more than $194 billion by 2025. In fact, 64 million homes in the U.S. currently utilize OTT services, with the typical home having an estimated 86 hours of streaming per month. 

By way of background, Quickplay was founded in 2004, acquired by AT&T, and then in the midst of the shedding of assets by 2020 Quickplay was on its own. That left no entity to serve the Tier 1 marketplace. Pastor joined Quickplay as Chief Business Officer, with cofounders André Christensen (CEO), Juan Martin (CTO), and Goutham Vinjamuri (COO).

Quickplay is a straight B2B initiative and provides cloud transformations of OTT and in-home experiences for pay-TV, telcos, and MVPDs. The company has built and operated dozens of Tier 1 OTT services worldwide, and is leaning confidently into providing immersive sports, live experiences and personalized entertainment on any screen.

Pastor described Quickplay’s four core products:

  1. An audiovisual pipeline that handles all ingestion and virtual channels.
  2. A content management system for the discovery and deployment of metadata to make the content discoverable and readily merchandised on the consumer facing storefront.
  3. Edge related services.
  4. The ability to orchestrate all the data necessary for the workflow.

The two unique selling propositions for Quickplay are that it is cloud native (which allows for optimal performance and no porting of old workflows) and that it is cloud agnostic, meaning Quickplay work easily with GCP, MSFT and AWS. (For those needing a TLA decoder, that means Google, Microsoft and Amazon).

As the Quickplay corporate folks put it, “The company’s cloud-native platform leverages a transformative Gen5 architecture for unparalleled performance in delivering premium video, handling complex use cases, and scaling to millions of viewers.”

As Pastor described it to me, “Being cloud agnostic affords Quickplay the ability to co-develop products with those three companies and hence advance quickly. Of the 300 micro services offered by Quickplay, all are API driven. Therefore, the company can work with Tier 1 operators who want to maintain their existing functionality. That also quickly affords us the ability to deliver a customized roadmap, in the event the customer wants for example unique statistical analysis or offer its consumers features like betting.”

Stated alternatively, Quickplay’s customers can selectively replace components, essentially futureproofing themselves.

I asked Pastor one of my favorite questions in a conversation like this: “which is more important, the pipe or content.” Pastor admitted that because of his background he is fundamentally a content guy (so am I). But Pastor quickly pointed out that an elegant pipe is critical when it comes to engagement and retention, the key factors when it comes to consumer behavior. We concurred on that. Much like the best special effects or an excellent score in a movie are invisible, when the pipe is invisible, that means everything is working brilliantly for the consumer.

Pastor pointed out that one of the biggest challenges for everyone in the marketplace is the mountains of unstructured data, coupled with incomplete dashboards. Quickplay is grappling with his head on, affording its customers far more flexibility in leveraging the flow of incoming data.

Quickplay has doubled his headcount since 2020 and now has about 250 employees. It is privately financed and is headquartered in Toronto with has additional locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and Chennai, India.

When I asked about the innovators dilemma, Pastor astutely pointed out that “Quickplay will constantly evolve and indicate against ourselves.”

We closed our discussion with the recent success Quickplay had at CES. Pastor pointed out that success at CES included his company’s role in spearheading “The Innovation For All D&I LGBTQ+ Meet-up.” It was a first-of-its-kind event at CES. The organizers of the mammoth annual conference in Vegas had been working to increase its diversity and inclusion efforts with events centered around women in tech, people of color in tech, and more.

In many significant ways Quickplay is leading the industry into exciting initiatives.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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