December 1, 2010
2010 CableFAX 100: The Top 10
1 | SLY FOX
Title: Chairman/CEO, Fox Networks Group
Number of Years in Cable: 9
Education: State University of New York at Albany
I Watch TV Mostly: Live, online, On Demand and TiVo/Recorded
Why Him? Love it or hate it, Vinciquerra’s Fox got its deals done this year with Time Warner Cable, DISH and yes, eventually Cablevision. And while the humble Vinciquerra wasn’t as visible as Chase Carey and Mike Hopkins during the wrangling, he played an intimate role and kept a steady hand on the wheel of a ship that includes 38 domestic broadcast and cable outlets and 170 international channels. His acumen hasn’t gone unnoticed, with rumblings that Comcast may have expressed an interest in him for a post-NBCU gig.
International Player: Fox’s international channels, which reach more than 350mln subs in 32 languages, posted a 25% increase in ad revenue last year under Vinciquerra’s steady leadership. In fiscal 1Q (July-Sept), the international networks posted a 27% increase in ad revenue. Domestic and international channels now account for 25% of News Corp’s revenue.
The Year Ahead: Next up will be mending fences after this year’s raucous negotiations and closing more of those agreements.
3DTV is: A potential way to position Big Events for group viewing. The system holds exciting possibilities.
When It Comes to Media Issues, The New Congress Should: Allow businesses to negotiate directly without Big Brother looking over their shoulder.
Most Creative Part of My Job: Helping young executives grow professionally.
Favorite Non-Fox Show: Chasing Classic Cars
2 | PEACOCK PURCHASERS
Title: EVP/COO, Comcast Corp ( left)
Number of Years in Cable: 12
Education: BA, Colgate (Phi Beta Kappa); MBA, Harvard
Title: CFO, Comcast Corp
Number of Years in Cable: 20
Education: BA, Babson; OPM, Harvard
I Watch TV Mostly: On Demand
Why Them? With Comcast set to acquire NBCU in one of the most significant media deals in years, Burke is poised to become one of the most powerful operational players in media. Pairing him here with Angelakis was an easy call, considering the whip-smart CFO has been integrally involved in the transaction from the start. In fact, Angelakis has become a sort of travel buddy for Burke as the two tour NBCU facilities, strategize about potential synergies and kick the tires at NBCU’s large NYC and L.A. operations.
Tofu Cheese Steak: Comcast couldn’t be more different culturally from the Peacock. It’s Hollywood glitz versus Philadelphia prudence. Early word is Burke will move cautiously as he brings more discipline to the NBC broadcast net while preserving the success of NBCU’s cable properties like USA and Bravo.
Step Aside: Not one to beat around the bush, Burke bluntly told NBCU chief Jeff Zucker in late Sept to hit the road after the deal closes. The Conan debacle probably didn’t help matters for Zucker, who we’re guessing will be just fine nonetheless.
The Year Ahead: Burke and Angelakis have never wielded more power, with Burke set to steer strategy and Angelakis angling to find fat, synergies and savings.
3 | BRITT WIT
Title: Chairman/President/CEO, Time Warner Cable ( left)
Number of Years in Cable: 38
Education: AB, Economics, Dartmouth; MBA, Dartmouth
I Watch TV Mostly: Live
Why Him? Never flashy, but this ex-cable techie is among cable’s smartest and operationally savvy CEOs. Britt’s focus on his company and shareholders instead of his ego has spelled success for Time Warner Cable, which recently reported stellar results and plans to buy back a whopping $4bln worth of shares.
Stemming the Tide: Britt was one of only five execs tapped by President Obama to join the Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) task force. Britt took it further by launching Connect a Million Minds, a 5-year effort to address STEM deficiencies.
Broadway Britt: Among Britt’s board memberships is the Manhattan Theatre Club. After his acting debut with Matt Blank in that Nurse Jackie spoof at the ’09 Cable Show, we’d like to see him on stage. Break a leg, Glenn!
Year Ahead: Britt faces tough competition everywhere, but Time Warner Cable’s financial strength (bolstered by the planned share buyback), as well as its focus on innovation, bodes well for ’11.
On Your iPad: Mad Men and MI5 episodes, email, photos, Amazon books, WSJ, NYT
3DTV is: Not ready for the living room yet, but might be once we can ditch the glasses.
Favorite City for Business: NY
4 | COCO COHORTS
Title: Chairman/CEO, Turner Broadcasting System
Education: BA, Lehigh
Title: Vice Chairman, Turner Broadcasting System
Number of Years in Cable: 25
Education: BS, Cornell University, School of Industrial Relations; JD, Fordham Law School
I Watch TV Mostly: Live
Why Them? Funny how things go in cable. Last year we pinned Kent and Heller’s year ahead on TV Everywhere, noting Heller’s role as Turner’s point man on the issue. A year later, all anyone can talk about re Turner is that tall, red-headed late-night talk-show host and how the division between broadcast and cable really is fading. That’s fine for the soft-spoken Heller, whose strength has always been working behind the scenes to make things happen. This time his job is to make TV Everywhere more of a reality than a concept.
Global Co Co: Of course there’s much more to Turner than Conan O’Brien. Kent leads a global media company that, in its 40th year, operates 100 channels in 27 languages in 200 countries and generates more than half of parent Time Warner’s earnings. And don’t forget the global ubiquity of CNN, the animation properties, a slew of sports or Kyra Sedgewick’s best actress Emmy for The Closer.
Year Ahead: Early ratings for Conan bode well for a good year.
What Should Cable do to Improve its Image with the Public? Tout the fact that it is the best entertainment value in America.
Favorite Non-Turner Shows: NCIS
Best Business Advice: "It’s hard to learn anything if you are the only one in the room talking." – Jimmy Doolittle
5 | MIGHTY MICE
Title: Co-Chair, Disney Media Nets; Co-Chair/Pres, ESPN and ABC Sports
Number of Years in Cable: 29
Education: Denison U
I Watch TV Mostly: Live
Title: Co-Chair, Disney Media Nets; Pres, Disney-ABC Television Group
Number of Years in Cable: 29
Education: BA, The College of New Rochelle; Ed. M., Harvard
I Watch TV Mostly: On TV, with a healthy dose of online (via computer and iPad).
Why Them? Besides helping forge high-profile distribution deals with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable in ’10, Sweeney’s vision for increasing exposure of content through multiplatform initiatives has borne fruit. Apple TV now carries some ABC content, while Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Insight launched fresh on demand ABC content this year; TWC even added a special transactional VOD service for select ABC programming. Overseeing a dominant global sports empire with 5K+ employees, the humble Bodenheimer must be credited for a raft of successes and innovations. ESPN launched cable’s 1st 3D channel in June, smartly tied to the rollout of its World Cup coverage for a heavy marketing, er... kick. Soccer viewing exploded, just weeks after ESPN scored TV rights to ACC football and men’s and women’s basketball to augment a long-term rights slate that includes the SEC, Big Ten and Big East. He was ranked 32 in Vanity Fair’s 100 Most Influential People of the Information Age.
The Year Ahead: You never bet against ESPN and broadcast’s ad recovery, and ABC’s deft delivery of content across platforms bode well for Sweeney’s future.
3DTV Is: An exciting new business opportunity for our company and the industry.
What Should Cable Do To Improve Its Image With the Public? Continue to communicate the true value proposition cable offers. It’s hard to find a better deal in entertainment.
In ’11, Cable Will: Continue to improve its multi-platform presence and with it enhance the value of our products for consumers.
On Your iPad: My most used apps: ABC Player app, London Tube, Kindle, Talking Tom, ABC News and Flipboard
In ’11, Cable Will: Be even stronger.
Best Business Advice: Find the best people, give them a mission and resources to achieve it and then stay out of their way and let them do what you hired them to do. Also, pay attention to your customers, every minute, every day.
6 | ZAS GOOD
Title: President/CEO, Discovery Comm
Number of Years in Cable: 21
Education: BS, SUNY, Binghamton; JD, Boston U Law
I Watch TV Mostly: Live. The TV is always on.
Why Him? On the heels of delivering Discovery’s best financial and ratings performance in history and celebrating Discovery Channel’s 25th year, Zaslav finally will begin to see fruit from a partnership with the world’s most powerful woman. OWN is scheduled to see the light in January with 80mln homes. Zaslav’s also overseeing the launch of one of the first 3D cable networks in Discovery’s joint venture with Sony and Imax in ’11. Another move on the JV front is the summer ’10 launch of kids network The Hub in partnership with Hasbro. Plus, Zas has the best cufflinks in cable and lives in the $25mln Central Park W digs he bought from Conan.
International Waters: Just as Zaslav has looked for partnerships to shepherd growth in the US, he’s pushed Discovery into international waters - business abroad is growing at four times compared to three years ago.
The Year Ahead: Oprah. Enough said.
In ’11, Cable Will: Continue to take market share from broadcast...
Best Business Book: Winning by Jack Welch
Best Business Advice: Take big swings.
7 | MSO MULTITASKER
Title: COO, Cablevision
Years in Cable: 33
Education: BA, Economics, CA U
Why Him? What a year for Cablevision and Rutledge. The same year CableFAX: The Magazine awards Cablevision its MSO of the Year honor, it takes on major programmer and retrans battles while preparing the launch of innovative services, such as PC-to-TV Relay. Then there’s the Bresnan purchase, which should wrap by year’s end. And Rutledge must keep everything afloat. Sanford Bernstein’s Craig Moffett has long called Cablevision the best operator in the business, but he notes that given its high penetration, growth is slowing. That’s where value-adds, like Cablevision’s impressive (and BIG) free WiFi network, come in. Its remote-storage DVR is expected to help, too. There’s even talk of a mobile phone service that could hop from WiFi to cellular networks. With so many new services, it should be exciting to see what Rutledge does next.
Big Sky Bound: Rutledge should be logging a lot of frequent flyer miles to Montana in ’11 as Cablevision integrates the Bresnan systems. Things have gone swimmingly on the regulatory and franchise transfer front. Rutledge and team are hoping for the same kind of operating excellence out West that they enjoy in NY. Expect more HD programming and increased marketing to be near the top of his to-do list.
Year Ahead: Cablevision has completed retrans negotiations with all of the Big 4. That has to make for a strong ’11.
8 | HAMMER’S TIME
Title: President, NBCU Cable Entertainment/Universal Cable Productions
Number of Years in Cable: 23
Education: BA, MA, Boston U
I Watch TV Mostly: Live
Why Her? With responsibilities including oversight of USA Network and Syfy, the incredibly down-to-Earth Hammer leads a profitable division. Very profitable. We’re talking $1bln in operating profit, highest of any division at NBCU. It’s no wonder Comcast plans to heap even more responsibility upon her capable shoulders after it gets approval for the NBCU deal. That’s when she’ll become Chair, NBCU Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios.
Pulling No Punches: Hammer recently told Elle magazine she learned a lot from working with Barry Diller on the Sci-Fi Channel (as SyFy was once known) in the late ’90s. "That was a great education. Of course, working for Barry was also insane and crazy...I took up kickboxing...with a real bag."
Year Ahead: In a post-Comcast world, Hammer will add E! Entertainment, G4, Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD and Universal Cable Productions to her slate. It’s significantly more power. After her undisputed success with USA and SyFy, it’s significantly well deserved.
On Your iPad: Books, tons of news media — everything from The NY Times to Huffington Post — and just about every available app. I love to play. But my favorite app is iAnnotate, which allows me to make script notes and immediately send them to my team with one touch. It lets me circle, underline, create Post-its, even draw pictures. I basically turn into a kid with a grown up, work-related Etch-A-Sketch!
Most Creative Part of My Job: Figuring out how to effectively clear my desk and get out of the office with "job done" peace of mind, so I can spend a little time with my kid. He’ll be off to college in less than a year, so every second counts.
Favorite City for Business: LA if you live in NY. And NY if you live in LA. One is the perfect antidote to the other.
9 | CUSTOMER CARETAKER
Title: President, Cox Communications ( 2nd from left)
Years in Cable: 30
Education: BA, MA, Communications Media, U of Northern Iowa
I Watch TV Mostly: All of the above, but there is no substitute for relaxing on the couch with the big screen.
Why Him? With Cox a private company, the soft-spoken Esser doesn’t always receive the accolades he deserves. He’s helped Cox become an industry leader in the small-to-medium business space, with Cox Business set to hit the $1bln revenue mark in ’10. And the name Cox continues to be synonymous with customer care. It’s the only telecom and entertainment company to receive top honors from J.D. Power in video, phone and high-speed Internet satisfaction studies.
Grand Tam’er: Esser received the Grand TAM in ’10, the highest individual honor CTAM bestows. CTAM chief Char Beales says Esser consistently finds a way to carve out time to give back to the industry, including through the CTAM U curriculum.
Year Ahead:? We’re awaiting wide deployment of Cox’s much anticipated (and delayed) wireless product. With it finally bowing in Nov, time will tell if Esser is viewed as a wireless wizard or not.
On His iPad: All my iTunes music (including personal re-mixes by Marc Juris), about 15 apps (one of which is a cool beta of a Cox Mobile Connections app), movies ( Pirates of the Caribbean & Sherlock Holmes) and 700 pics of friends and family. Also, about 250 emails.
10 | QUOTH THE RAVEN...
Title: Pres/CEO, AETN
Years in Cable: 28 — I started as a child.
Education: BA, U of Buffalo; MA, Hunter College
I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded
Why Her? When the Lifetime Networks merged into AETN in late August ’09, former teacher Raven began overseeing one of the biggest portfolios in cable: 10 networks in 150 countries reaching 300mln homes with revenue estimated by SNL Kagan at $3.5bln. One of the few female CEOs in cable programming, Raven is the only woman who sits on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of NCTA and was inducted into Cable’s Hall of Fame this year.
Self-Awareness: Besides her business prowess and her Top 10 rank on our list, we admire Raven’s humility, intelligence and sense of self. "I’m extremely proud that I’m a CEO who doesn’t play golf," she mused at WICT earlier this year.
Global Expansion: In ’10, Raven closed a deal putting History and Bio in India and China.
Year Ahead: Strong, but questions about Lifetime.
On Your iPad: NYT & NYT Crossword Puzzle, WSJ New York, Kindle, ABC News, weather, People, Twitter, Google Maps.
A Non-Cable Co that Knows How to Run/Market its Business: Apple
When It Comes to Media Issues, the New Congress Should: Stay out of the media business.
My Goal on Foursquare is to be the Mayor of: NYC
Most Creative Part of My Job: Working with my team to craft a vision for the future.
Favorite Non-AETN Show: Brothers and Sisters
Best Business Advice: Details do matter.
Most Underrated Drink: Lemonade
Favorite City for Business: Chicago