Chairman of the Americas for Banijay, Cris Abrego, announced today that he is stepping down as CEO and elevating Ben Samek into the role of Chief Executive Officer, Banijay Americas. Samek, who has served as President and COO since 2018, will now oversee the company’s award-winning independent production studios across two continents, developing and producing some of the world’s biggest formats and hit series.
Abrego will stay on as Chairman of the Americas for Banijay, focusing on acquisitions and new business ventures. In line with the personnel changes, the production labels across the Americas will now be housed under the new umbrella, Banijay Americas.
“When I decided to step down as CEO, I knew Ben was the ideal person to take the reins as chief executive of Banijay Americas. He has been a key partner to me for more than two decades and I know him to be an extraordinary and results-driven leader with the experience and relationships to drive success both domestically and internationally,” said Abrego. “Ben cares deeply about our company, our clients, and our people. His promotion to CEO is a testament to his long list of contributions and achievements.”
“It is an honor to step into this role, especially at a moment of accelerated evolution for the entertainment industry and Banijay Americas,” said Samek. “There are tremendous opportunities ahead for our business and I am inspired daily by the extraordinary talent and expertise of our team. I am grateful to Cris, who has been a mentor and friend for many years, and I look forward to the work ahead.”
Samek joined Endemol USA in 2014 as Chief Operating Officer and transitioned to COO of Endemol Shine North America in 2015. Promoted to President and COO for Endemol Shine North America in January 2018, Samek then expanded his areas of oversight to include the Banijay companies in the U.S. and Latin America when Banijay acquired Endemol Shine Group in 2020. Previously, he held the role of COO at 51 Minds Entertainment, where he worked closely with Abrego, its co-founder, to help grow the unscripted studio from its boutique beginnings into an industry heavyweight that produced more than $100 million a year in content and eventually sold to Endemol in 2008.
Banijay Americas multi-genre content portfolio includes highlights like the Emmy Award-winning Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls, LEGO Masters, MasterChef, The Men Who Built America, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Real Housewives of Potomac, Real Housewives of Dubai, Ink Master, Love is Blind Brasil, Vai Que Cola, La Casa de los Famosos, LOL Mexico, the Below Deck franchise, The Challenge franchise, and more.