The late Tip O’Neill said all politics is local. He could have been talking about cable, too. The influence of regional cable operators and programmers, particularly in sports and public affairs, has often been ignored when lists of cable’s powerful are compiled. The rankings below are our attempt to rectify that oversight. With a few exceptions, this list, like the 100, places one person in each slot, unless they work for he same company and have similar titles. Some of the executives on this list work for national networks, but have regional responsibilities.
1. Randy Freer
President, Fox Regional Cable Sports Networks:
Ranked #73 on our 100 list last year, Freer’s portfolio of nearly 20 RSNs passes more than 80mln HHs and serves as the cable home to more than half of the MLB, NHL, and NBA teams in the U.S.
2. Jon Litner
President, Comcast Sports Group:
Litner’s kingdom includes nets passing 40mln HHs that are home to 18 pro teams in seven of the top 10 DMAs. New sets and more HD were ’08 highlights for Litner, who won a national Punt, Pass & Kick award as a 10-year-old.
3. Tracy Dolgin
CEO, YES Network
3. Ray Hopkins
COO, YES Network:
Why are these perennial members of our 100 edition happy? Besides their high ranking on our list the ’08 ratings will show that this was the 6th consecutive year that YES was the most-watched RSN in the land. It also added 22 new advertisers. All this in a season when the Yankees missed the playoffs and the 4.22 avg rating for their games was off from ’07’s record 4.67. Think they’re looking forward to ’09 with a new ballpark? Oh, yes.
4. Steve Raab
Like ’07, those lovable Mets kept Raab and his Comcast and Time Warner Cable bosses happy until the last day of the ’08 regular season. Other reasons for Raab’s ebullience: his July acquisition of Big East football and basketball and a revenue spike of 500% for sny.tv
5. Patrick Knorr
COO, Sunflower Broadband:
Soft-spoken Knorr is a regional player, but he’s known throughout cable as a brilliant visionary. His masterpiece is Sunflower’s tech profile, which is years ahead of most ops’.
6. Barry Rosenblum
EVP, Texas Region, Time Warner Cable:
The unofficial mayor of regional cable, Rosenblum is a regional player who also enjoys a national reputation. He ran TW Cable systems in NY and L.A. before heading south in January, where he serves nearly 2mln subs in Dallas Ft-Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
7. Mark Silverman
Pres, Big Ten Net:
You want influence? Silverman, who makes his 2nd appearance in our 100 book, oversees a network that had 30mln subs in its first 30 days of existence in ’07.
8. Pete Cirelli
VP, Sales & Marketing, Charter East Div
8. Josh Jamison
Pres, East Div, Charter:
With his can-do personality, avid NY Mets’ fan Jamison has led the East Division to double-digit revenue growth. His colleague, Cirelli, gains mention for his dedication to the customer — he started one of the industry’s first loyalty programs. He has helped make the East Division Charter’s most financially successful region.
9. Steve Weed
CEO, Wave Broadband:
Weed looks way too young to have received a Lifetime Achievement Award in our Top Operators magazine last summer, but Wave actually is his 2nd go-round in cable. Subs in his high-tech systems in Portland, Seattle and SF are glad he’s back.
10. William Bridgen
EVP/GM, Comcast SportsNet New England:
The well-respected and popular Bridgen joined SportsNet New England in January, just as the resuscitated Celtics began their championship run, boosting game ratings by 116%. A coincidence? We think it was just another example of Bridgen’s excellent timing.
11. Scott Binder
SVP, Comcast Colorado:
We’re not honoring Binder only because he’s moved 7 times in the past 14 years to lead cable systems. In addition to turning around CO’s largest system, he’s mentored dozens who now manage cable systems.
12. Carol Hevey
VP, Carolinas, TW Cable MSG Media:
12. Stephen Pagano
VP, West, TW Cable:
Hevey’s spent time in New England for TWC and now has nearly 2mln subs in the Carolinas. Pagano is nearing 30 years with TWC and serves some 2.5mln subs in LA, San Diego and Hawaii.
13. Mike Bair
President, MSG Media:
If you get the chance to chat with Bair you’ll find him one of cable’s most interesting execs. He also has numbers, like the record 50 NY Emmy noms MSG received in ’08.
14. Curt Henninger
Regional SVP, Comcast:
Honors are nothing new to Henninger, whose work remaking AT&T systems in Oregon and Washington systems won him Comcast’s Region of the Year award twice in four years, something never done before.
15. Fred Lutz
VP/GM, Charter, Los Angeles:
The diverse L.A. system has benefited from an infusion of digital simulcast, DOCSIS 3.0 and IP switch video under Lutz.
16. Ted Griggs
VP/GM, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area:
Recognized as one of the most powerful people in Bay Area sports (ranked ahead of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis recently), Griggs runs a property that carries 400 live telecasts/year. On top of that Griggs christened a 32K-sq-ft studio, 24/7 newsroom and HD production suite in San Francisco recently.
17. Amy Tykeson
Pres, Bend Broadband:
Another regional standout who enjoys a terrific national reputation, tech-savvy Tykeson’s systems in 4 markets just completed a digital upgrade.
18. Jon Gorchow
It’s true that Gorchow’s raised the profile of CN8’s election coverage for its 9mln HHs with a new Capitol Hill studio, but the amateur drummer’s big thrill was meeting Springsteen at a CN8-produced concert.
19. Gary McCollum
SVP & GM, Cox
19. Janet Barnard
VP & GM, Cox:
A longtime cable leader, McCollum heads systems in Hampton Roads and Newport News, VA, of nearly 1mln subs and is extremely active on community and statewide boards. He preceded Barnard in affluent suburban D.C., where Verizon competes and D.C. insiders are her subs.
20. Jim Liberatore
President, SportsTime Ohio:
When Liberatore arrived at STO it ran and reran Indians’ games. He’s remade STO into a 24/7 operation and launched HD in April.
21. Steve Friedman
COO, Wave Broadband
21. Jim Bruder
President, Harron Comm:
While Friedman and Harron are key systems players, their influence is enhanced as ACA’s incoming chair and vice chair, respectively.
22. Elliot Wiser
VP Corporate News & Local Programming, Bright House Networks:
Wiser launched the country’s first 24-hr local news channel in Spanish, now the top-rated local news channel in the country. He recently was upped to corporate VP.
23. Laurie Giammona
Regional VP, Customer Service, CA Region, Comcast:
As part of her oversight of Comcast’s call center, 20-year cable vet Giammona launched the MSO’s largest virtual call center, with 100+ CSRs taking calls at home.
24. Joan Gundlach
Based in Chicago, Gundlach’s been in the field for 17 years with AETN, supervising the distribution sales staff, but also touching marketing, operations, business development, local ad sales and community affairs.
25. Mary McConnell
Account VP, Showtime:
Atlanta-based McConnell oversees all aspects of Showtime’s business with NCTC. The 10-year Showtime exec received Showtime’s SE Region Dru Strange Award.