Larry W. Jones

Title: President, TV Land

Years in Cable: 22

Education: BA, Ohio State

I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? Jones spearheaded TV Land’s foray into original scripted programming and smartly decided not to reinvent the wheel but to give the network’s viewers something they already liked — a classic sitcom. Sticking with that strategy, he brought Hot in Cleveland to the network. The show was a hit right out of the block, averaging 4.75mln viewers when it premiered in June, becoming TV Land’s highest-rated broadcast ever.

The Amazing Kreskin: We don’t know if Jones has a crystal ball, but he suggested casting Betty White in Hot in Cleveland well before she appeared in the Snickers Super Bowl spot. The ad generated buzz around the octogenarian and led to the Internet push that landed her on Saturday Night Live, officially making her Hollywood’s "It Girl."

Year Ahead: If viewers love Jones’ next scripted original, Retired at 35, premiering in Jan and starring George Segal, he’ll be off to a great start for ’11.

A Non-Cable Co That Knows Its Business: Target

Dinner With Any Cable Star: Ted Turner – I love his maverick style.

Most Creative Part of My Job: The opportunity for reinvention. Everything is changing, and programmers have to evolve; that’s a most exciting and motivational feeling.

Favorite Non-TV Land Show: The Odd Couple

Motto: Earn your living from your passion.

Business Advice: Focus on the long term.

Favorite City for Business: LA

68 | HIT MAN

Jeff Wachtel

Title: President, Original Programming, USA Networks; Co-Head, Original Content, Universal Cable Productions

Number of Years in Cable: 12

Education: BA, Yale

I Watch TV Mostly: A mix of live, online, On Demand, TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? With shows like Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice and new hit Covert Affairs, which was picked up for a second season after a successful summer run, USA remains the top cable net. Wachtel’s disciplined approach and attunement to USA’s audience has paid big dividends.

Next Big Thing: The affable Wachtel is aggressively hunting for more hits to add to USA’s stable of character-driven shows. He has six drama pilots in the works and is looking to broaden USA’s lineup with comedy as well as reality fare.

Year Ahead: USA has dabbled in reality, but Wachtel is orchestrating a serious push. He needs to tread carefully as reality could dilute a brand respected for its character-driven dramas.

On Your iPad: Scripts on iAnnotate, cuts on Encodi, lots of email, books and about 100 game apps my kids have downloaded.

Dinner With Any Cable Stars, It Would Be: The Jersey Shore cast. But I’d actually lock them in a basement and we’d never have to hear from them again.

Who Wins a Fight Between Kevin Martin and Julius Genachowski? Genachowski would school Martin. After you’ve gone toe to toe with Barry Diller, the rest is easy.


Herb Scannell

Title: President, BBC Worldwide America ( center)

Years in Cable: 26

Education: Boston College

I Watch TV Mostly: Live

Why Him? The former Nickelodeon chief and MTV Nets vice chair joined BBC only this summer, but was a familiar face in his first appearance just a few weeks later at TCA, where he schmoozed easily with critics at yet another of BBC’s excellent parties. More seriously, Scannell is a veteran TV exec who’s vowed to grow BBC America’s distribution beyond 67mln households and produce more programs here in the former colonies.

Year Ahead: We’re anxiously awaiting Scannell’s foray into US-based production with a Yankee version of hilarious BBC food hit Come Dine With Me. It’ll be interesting to see how he mixes the net’s fine imports with US domestic product.

On Your iPad: BBC News

Biggest Threat to Cable is: An unknown 23-year-old working out of his garage.

A Non-Cable Company That Knows How to Run/Market: Apple

The New Congress Should: Continue along the path of making broadband accessible and uphold network neutrality.

My Foursquare Goal is to be Mayor of: Citi Field, home of the Mets.

Favorite Non-BBC TV Show: Glee


Bill Abbott

Title: President/CEO, Hallmark Channels

Number of Years in Cable: 22

Education: BA, Holy Cross

I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? Last year, we were intrigued when Abbott ascended to the top job at Hallmark. We knew he had the pedigree, but it was unclear where he’d take the net. The Martha Stewart deal answered that question. It was a bold move, but it’s unclear whether she’ll be a winner. Still, Abbott gets points for sticking to the strategy and giving it time to flourish.

Year Ahead: It’s obvious — it all comes down to Martha.

On Your iPad: Meet the Press, hockey

3DTV is: A difficult business model.

In ’11, Cable Will: Continue its explosive growth.

Biggest Threat to Cable’s Survival: Careless proliferation of content on other platforms.

A Non-Cable Co That Knows How to Run/Market its Business: Apple

The New Congress Should: Revisit retrans and not allow broadcasters to use it as leverage.

Dinner With Any Cable Star It Would Be: Chris Berman

Favorite Non-Hallmark TV Show: Anything news or sports.

Motto: Success is a choice.

Best Business Book: Topgrading

Best Business Advice: Be prepared.

Most Underrated Drink: A glass of ice water.

Favorite City for Business: Chicago


Rob Kennedy

Title: Pres, Co-COO, C-SPAN (far right)

Education: MBA, U of Chicago

Susan Swain

Title: Pres, Co-COO, C-SPAN (left)

Education: BA, U of Scranton

Why Them? By now it’s clear that C-SPAN is among cable’s most useful gifts to the American public. While Kennedy and Swain aren’t members of the digital generation, they get it, in a big way. The network was early to Facebook and Twitter, and its searchable Web site posts the day’s Washington Journal program within hours of its appearing on the linear network. But during ’10 Swain and Kenndy made sure C-SPAN became far more useful. That’s because they convinced their cable operator board members to fund a project to digitize C-SPAN’s entire library, making nearly 30 years of the networks’ interviews, speeches and panels available to all. Even better, the board got it. It didn’t take much convincing; they saw the importance of it right away, Swain said.

Golden Moment: In September, ACC awarded its Golden Beacon to C-SPAN for the digitization project.

Year Ahead: With partisan squabbling seemingly endless, C-SPAN will remain the voice of reason in DC.


Sam Howe

Title: EVP/Chief Marketing Officer, Time Warner Cable

Years in Cable: 24

Education: BA, Bowdoin; MBA, Kellogg Graduate School

I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? Sure, Howe runs all of Time Warner Cable’s branding, marketing and advertising in an increasingly competitive world, but he also oversees customer care. He’s well known outside his company, too. Howe’s the incoming CTAM Chairman and was the diplomatic glue that helped create cable’s DTV Advisor Hotline, created at President Obama’s request.

Did You Know?: Before joining cable, Howe started in the radio business.

Year Ahead: Time Warner Cable faces tough telco competition in several key markets, including Manhattan. The pressure on Howe to conceive innovative marketing and customer outreach has never been greater — and it will all come down to execution.

On Your iPad: Backgammon

In ’11, Cable Will: Win by offering products-service experiences that go beyond the bundle.

Favorite TV Show: 30 Rock

Motto: Achieve results through the efforts of others.


John Skipper

Title: EVP, Content, ESPN

Years in Cable: With ESPN since ’97

Education: BA, Literature, UNC: MA, Literature, Columbia U

I Watch TV Mostly: Live, the only way to watch sports.

Why Him? Although Skipper’s creative hands know no bounds and he’s been integral to ESPN’s amazingly robust multi-platform strategy, you could sum up his successful year by mentioning 30 for 30. The series of sports-related films celebrating ESPN’s 30th anniversary were consistently very good, some were excellent.

Big Kicks: As we said, you could sum up Skipper’s year with 30 for 30, except he and ESPN were also wildly successful with The World Cup. Skipper took on the skeptics early, predicting bullish ratings potential. Boy, was he prescient. Targets were smashed, with ESPN achieving success across virtually every platform, including ESPN3 and ESPNSoccernet.com. 55% of all Americans consumed ESPN Cup content, and Bristol’s subsequent research provided advertisers with valuable insight into consumers’ media use.

Year Ahead: ESPN’s first BCS Championship game runs early in ’11, kicking off its ride into the future, which might include Olympics coverage.

On Your iPad: Right now, a stack of hardcover books.

When It Comes To Media Issues, The New Congress Should: Watch more cable, particularly live sports, on a regular basis to appreciate the incredible value a consumer receives.

Best Biz Book: Dickens’ Christmas Carol

Most Underrated Drink: Tall

Favorite City for Business: Anywhere near a significant concentration of monkeys.


Mark Hollinger

Title: President/CEO, Discovery Networks International

Number of Years in Cable: 19

Education: BA, Colgate U; JD, Yale

I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? Hollinger might lack the name recognition of other execs, but the veteran Discovery hand is well-respected in Silver Spring and with his Dec ’09 promotion to Pres/CEO of Discovery Networks International he’s guiding one of the fastest growing sectors of any cable programming business. Discovery has a global reach of nearly 1bln subscribers in more than 170 countries. This year, Discovery Networks International launched TLC for the first time outside of the US. That network now reaches nearly 50mln homes in 25 international markets.

Nice Work: Hollinger started a development division to create original international programming for distribution.

The Year Ahead: International is white hot at the moment.

Dinner With Any Cable Star: Bear Grylls (as long as I can pick what we eat).

Who Wins a Fight Between Kevin Martin and Julius Genachowski? Julius, soft-spoken guys can still pack a punch.

Best Business Advice: Don’t talk unless you have something to say.


Michael Riley

Title: Pres, ABC Family

Years in Cable: 14

Education: BA, U of Western Ontario; MBA, London Business School

I Watch TV: Live, online, on demand and TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? In August, Riley was plucked from an executive position at Radio Disney and made President of ABC Family, inheriting a stable of hits, including Pretty Little Liars, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Make It or Break It and Greek. Still he got right to work. Since joining Family, he has greenlighted a record six pilots — double the usual order.

Globe Turner: Riley has extensive international cable experience, having served as SVP/GM of Turner Broadcasting System, Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as VP/GM of Turner Broadcasting System France.

Year Ahead: Kids are always looking for the next big thing, so Riley has to give them something new.

Dinner with A Cable Star: Roger Sterling from Mad Men, to see how the ad sales business and drink choices have changed over time.

Favorite Non-ABC Family Show: Modern Family

Best Business Books: Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne; and Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell


David Zagin

Title: EVP, Distribution, AETN

Years in Cable: "Almost" half my life

Education: BS, Syracuse U

I Watch TV Mostly: Sports live; everything else recorded

Why Him? With Lifetime properties’ added clout, Zagin has shot up our list, moving from #92 in ’09. But it’s more than Lifetime’s strength that did it. The veteran exec has been more visible, beginning with his and AETN’s presence at The Cable Show ’10, which included a Vanguard for Zagin. This elevated stature helped Zagin push Lifetime Movie Network, BIO and History International to fast growth this year. Well known as a dealmaker, Zagin’s the point-man with AETN’s distribution partners in support of multiplatform initiatives, including VOD, broadband and authentication.

Numbers Game: AETN is on the verge of reaching the 100mln subscriber mark.

Year Ahead: Zagin will double down with his excellent hand.

Biggest Threat to Cable’s Survival: Cable is well positioned and will continue to enhance its presence with the addition of applications that will help expand relationships with consumers, grow the business and compete with OTT distributors. TV Everywhere is just one example.

Non-Cable Co that Runs/Markets Its Business Well: Nike. Does anyone do it better? It sticks to core competencies, expands into related product categories and supports its effort with good products and great marketing.

Favorite Non-AETN Show: Modern Family. But I must plug Pawn Stars.

Dinner With Anyone: Me, my daughter Ally and her favorite, Hannah Montana. This would be a BIG win for me!

Recent Business Book: Outliers — an interesting analysis on building successful teams.


Phil Griffin

Title: President, MSNBC

Years in Cable: 14

Ed: BA, Vassar

I Watch TV Mostly: Live for news and sports, TiVo/Recorded for entertainment shows

Mark Hoffman

Title: President, CNBC

Years in Cable: 10

Ed: BA, UC Berkeley; MA, U of MO

I Watch TV Mostly: Live

Why Them? Griffin’s MSNBC beat CNN in the ratings for the 2nd straight year and he expanded the lineup with The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Still, the only thing people chatter about is Keith Olbermann’s suspension. Hoffman’s CNBC is on track for its 5th consecutive year of record operating profit. It’s expanding overseas with China’s CCTV, a business channel in Korea with SBS and an English-language bureau in Bahrain.

The Year Ahead: While MSNBC is beating CNN, Fox News remains the ratings leader in cable news. Fox Business is in far fewer homes than CNBC, but it made a high-profile hire in Lou Dobbs. Will a Comcastic injection push CNBC and MSNBC to new heights?


On Your iPad: CNBC.com, Scrabble, MLB at Bat 2010

Motto: Work hard. Have fun.

Best Business Book: The Elements of Style by William Strunk


Dave Howe

Title: President, Syfy

Years in Cable: 14

Education: Reading University, UK

I Watch TV Mostly: TiVo/Recorded

Why Him? People questioned the decision to rebrand SciFi "Syfy," but Howe made it stick and has taken what was once a nerdy destination and turned it into the hip home of imagination-based entertainment, encompassing fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure and science fiction. Now, he’s busy rebranding Chiller, Syfy’s sister channel.

Fan Freakout: Fans of Caprica mobilized their Cylon Army and lobbied Howe hard to resurrect the show after he canceled it mid-way through its 2nd season this year. Nope.

The Year Ahead: No mention of Howe in Comcast’s post-NBCU deal memo, but considering his longtime boss Bonnie Hammer is increasing her role, we’re guessing he’ll also have a Comcastic future.

Dinner With Any Cable Star: Anthony Bourdain, for the best wining/dining tips on the planet.

Favorite Non-Syfy Show: Glee

Motto: Fewer, bigger, better

Best Business Book: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout


Clark Bunting

Title: Pres/GM, Discovery Channel; President, Science Channel

Years in Cable: 25

Education: Bachelors, Masters, MI State

Marjorie Kaplan

Title: Pres/GM, Animal Planet

Number of Years in Cable: 13

Education: Concentration in Semiotics, Brown U

I Watch TV Mostly: On Demand

Why Them? Kaplan’s bet 3 years ago to re-make Animal Planet with edgier and more entertaining fare like River Monsters and Whale Wars has led to 11 straight Qs of year-over-year ratings growth in 18 to 49s. Discovery Channel’s 25th anniversary was a pretty decent year for the affable Bunting, the net’s 19th employee. Under him, Discovery this year eclipsed the 100mln-subscriber mark, had the top-rated Shark Week on record and saw its premiere of Life, the landmark collaboration with BBC, reach 78mln people.

Heartstrings: Bunting oversaw Deadliest Catch’s depiction of the death of Capt Phil Harris with great tact. And the finale was the series’ top-rated ep, seen by 8.5mln. Since the show Last Chance Highway premiered this summer on Animal Planet, the number of dogs placed in new homes by the show’s talent has doubled.

The Year Ahead: Kaplan will need to sustain the record growth, and Bunting will focus on a re-brand that will answer the question: What is Discovery when it’s at its best?


If I Could Have Dinner With Any Cable TV Star, It Would Be: Ted Danson, for reasons better left unsaid.

Best Business Advice: If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if we hire people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants. – David Oglivy


Mac Budill

Title: EVP, Programming, Cablevision

Number of Years in Cable: 20

Education: BA, Yale; MBA, Harvard

I Watch TV Mostly: via Optimum Link (i.e., PC-to-TV Media Relay)

Kathleen ‘Kip’ Mayo

Title: EVP, Consumer Ops, Cablevision

Number of Years in Cable: 14

Education: BA, Sociology, West Chester U; MBA, Temple

I Watch TV Mostly: Live

Why Them? This may seem like an odd pairing, but trust us. While Budill was point man on those raucous programming negotiations, Mayo was handling field ops. Every incoming phone call was her department (she also oversees installs, service visits, billing, etc). While Cablevision conceded it ended up paying a rate for Fox it didn’t love, you have to admire Budill’s chutzpah. Who would have thought Fox would have been dark through not one, but two World Series games? No word yet on sub losses from the Fox impasse, but at least one analyst expected fewer than 1% and Cablevision seemed to weather pretty well the loss of HGTV and Food for 3 weeks earlier in the year.

Advancers: Both execs will be focused on advanced services, whether it’s PC-to-TV relay, remote-storage DVRs or applications that let subs take care of most of their service needs with a click of their remotes.

Year Ahead: 2011 has to be calmer than 2010, right?


If I Could Have Dinner With Any Cable Star, It Would Be: Miss Blankenship from Mad Men

My Goal On Foursquare Is To Be The Mayor Of: Walter’s Hot Dogs, Mamaroneck, NY

Most Underrated Drink: Zima


The Most Creative Part Of My Job Is: Providing our customers, and prospective customers, with a variety of service and installation options that range from full-service to highly independent, customer-controlled solutions. We’ve been developing innovative ways for our customers to learn about, order, receive, install, activate, configure, bill, and pay for all of our products and services — without human intervention — at their complete discretion. Developing these options requires unique and creative operational thought, but the results are meaningful for our business and for our customers, so success is very gratifying.

Favorite TV Shows: United States of Tara, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad; I used to like 24

Best Business Book: Atlas Shrugged — buried not so deeply in the book is what I consider to be fundamental to success of any kind — a strong work ethic. The rest is just a story.

Favorite City For Business: Bethpage, of course. Doesn’t everybody say that?


David Verklin

Title: CEO, Canoe Ventures

Number of Years in Cable: 3

Education: BA, Mass Communications, U VA

I Watch TV Mostly: Live

Why Him? Despite critics who wanted quicker product launches, the always enthusiastic Verklin has charted a more methodical route. He’s built Canoe by creating partner consensus and collaborating with CableLabs to ensure interoperability. It’s worked. Over the summer, Canoe launched its first product — an "RFI" app that creates an overlay within seconds of a 30-sec spot, allowing viewers to respond with their remotes to receive a product sample in the mail. Among others, a polling product’s being trialed.

Proud Papa: When Verklin joined Canoe in ’08, he promised it would change the face of advertising. Skepticism was rampant. As Canoe launches products, he may be proven right in ’11.

Year Ahead: It’s all in the execution. If Verklin can make a splash in 2011, the world will bow at his feet. If not, the naysayers will return with renewed gusto.

In 2011, Cable Will: Make National Interactive Television a reality; creating a capability that will delight subscribers, advertisers, agencies and programming network partners. Stay tuned.

Favorite TV Shows: Man vs. Wild and Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe

Motto: The harder I work the harder it seems to get

Best Business Book: Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here

Best Business Advice: Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.

The Daily


Doing Good

Charter is doubling its investment in the Spectrum Scholars program and making the scholarship and internship program annual as opposed to biannual.

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