1. Anne Sweeney
Co-Chairman, Disney Media Network and President, Disney/ABC Television Group
One of the most influential women in media (not just cable), Sweeney has aggressively positioned ABC and Disney as digital leaders and is overseeing the cable networks during a time of tremendous ratings growth.
Sweeney on Content: "We’ll maintain the performance, and the growth, the same way we built them – by focusing on creating and delivering great content – with storytelling that resonates, about characters people care about."
2. Bonnie Hammer
President, USA Network & Syfy
A humble powerhouse, Hammer is considered one of the top executives in media. Her team-oriented approach has helped USA dominate cable’s prime slots, particularly with gems like Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and Psych.
Her Motto: "Keep a fantastic team with an incredible batting average at the top of its game. Complacency is never an option. My dad, who was my greatest mentor, lived by this rule: ‘No is only a word, and it will be the last one only if you let it be.’"
3. Judy McGrath
Chairman/CEO, MTV Networks
As the long-time head of MTV Networks, McGrath has been a fixture in cable’s executive ranks. She’s known as a creative innovator. Most recently, the network has enjoyed tremendous success with its runaway hit Jersey Shore as well as its young female-skewing Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant.
4. Abbe Raven
Humble and widely respected, Raven’s unconventional career path from school teacher to President/CEO of a global media company might be what pushed her to embrace the unconventional and creative programming choices that have remade A&E and History into ratings strongholds.
Raven’s Challenge: "This past year, AETN had one of its most successful years…We set a really high bar for ourselves by launching some of the biggest hits in cable. As a global content company, our challenge will be to continue that same momentum next year and well into the future."
5. Cyma Zarghami
President, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group
The Nick veteran has been one of the most successful cable network executives for years. Nickelodeon has been the number-one rated cable network in total day viewing for more than 16 years in a row, all during her tenure.
6. Melinda Witmer
EVP, Chief Programming Officer, Time Warner Cable
Witmer is the point person for negotiations with programmers and leads the company’s VOD and online video distribution strategy.
Witmer on Negotiations: "My goal in every discussion is to try to find a win-win path and creative solutions that might help both sides define ‘success’ a little bit differently."
7. Lauren Zalaznick
Pres, NBCU Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
A master of multi-million dollar, cross-company ad sales, Zalaznick also is an icon in women’s and reality TV.
Cable Should: "Draw its growth energy from moving beyond the ‘cable should’ mindset. Cable actually is a complex set of content-driven businesses that should follow, but never chase, audience appetites; should consider itself the big tent distribution platform while serving emerging, undermonetized ones; and should continue to hone… products around the sharpest brand vision to stay vital in a more blended, aggregated world of choice."
8. Jill Campbell
SVP, Eastern Operations, Cox
The highest-ranking woman in cable operations, Campbell oversees Cox systems across several states.
Campbell on Competition: "Stalwart competition from phone and satellite companies and constantly churning threats from online competitors mean that our front line is continually challenged to learn and master new information."
9. Nomi Bergman
President, Bright House Networks
Fueled by a fierce dedication to her employees and a devotion to build strong relationships throughout cable, Bergman’s marathon days routinely start at 4 am, fielding email. "She’s one of the best technologists in cable," says Canoe Ventures CTO Arthur Orduna. Agreed.
Cable Should: "In addition to maintaining a healthy focus on innovation, cable must take good care of its customers. We must listen to them, and execute with able strength."
10. Amy Banse
President, Comcast Interactive Media/SVP, Comcast Corporation
Amy Banse has been the leading exponent behind Comcast’s TV Everywhere (XFinity TV) efforts as well as Fancast.
Banse on TV Everywhere: "Xfinitytv.com is a significant step in the right direction, but we need more. We need to figure out how to deliver all content to all screens under an economic model that works for programmers, distributors and customers alike."
11. Bridget Baker
President, NBCU TV Networks Distribution
As NBCU continues to grow its stable of powerhouse cable networks, Baker is one of the key executives at the helm of both traditional and multi-platform growth.
Baker on Multiplatform Distribution: "The biggest challenge is navigating the complex world of multi-platform content delivery. The days of less-complicated linear carriage agreements are behind us."
12. Nancy Dubuc
President/GM, History & Lifetime
The chattering classes continue to wonder what the History chief will do with Lifetime now that it’s in her portfolio. After just three years, she turned History into a top 10 network.
Dubuc on Lifetime: "Our legacy and brand equity gives us a solid mountain to climb as we reinvigorate our programming slate for today’s woman."
13. Eileen O’Neill
Humble and widely liked, O’Neill is enjoying huge ratings at TLC courtesy of series like Jon & Kate and Sister Wives. which consistently pierce the pop culture consciousness.
O’Neill on Programming: "Our goal is to continue growth with strong event programming, such as Sister Wives and our 8-part event Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which premiered November 14."
14. Jacqueline Hernández
A marketing and sales guru, the affable Hernández is in a great place at Telemundo and Mun2 as the 2011 Census is expected to underscore the Hispanic market’s importance.
Hernández on Growth: "At Telemundo we continue to grow our audience by offering our content on the many platforms people consume and connect to."
15. Colleen Abdoulah
Under Abdoulah’s leadership, overbuilder WOW! is a customer-service dynamo. It was rated the top provider in video, Internet, phone and bundled services earlier this year in Consumer Reports.
Abdoulah on Competition: "The challenge is to maintain a reasonable level of price/value in consumers’ minds by not cheapening our great products and services with deep promotional discounts."
16. Brooke Johnson
President, Food Network/Food Category Team Leader
At Food, Johnson’s newly expanded role reflects the focus Scripps is placing on reaching consumers broadly in its core categories.
Johnson on Challenges: "Food Network has transcended from a media brand to a powerful consumer brand. Our challenge is to identify and exploit suitable, relevant areas to build upon that strength with the goal of expanding the food category."
17. Rita Tuzon
EVP/General Counsel, Fox Networks Group
The well-liked Tuzon heads Fox Networks’ legal team and oversees legal matters for Fox cable. Moreover, she’s known inside Fox as Tony Vinciquerra’s right hand.
Tuzon on Retrans and Rights: "I see upcoming opportunities to secure value for our programming under retransmission consent, intelligently continue to monetize our content through digital rights while preserving our relationships with our distribution partners, and enhance our already robust portfolio of sports properties and relationships."
18. Lynne Costantini
EVP, Affiliate Sales & Marketing Scripps
Costantini cut her teeth at Time Warner Cable before moving to Scripps Networks where she oversees network distribution and development strategies.
Costantini on Seeing Both Sides: "Having been on the operator side for so many years, I also have a deep appreciation for the value of quality programming and strong media brands in helping attract cable customers, reduce churn and generate local ad sales revenue."
19. Joan Gillman
EVP/President, Time Warner Cable Media Sales
Widely respected in advertising circles, Gillman leads the MSO’s advanced advertising efforts.
Gillman on Ad Innovations: "On top of strong TV viewing habits, cable is delivering advanced advertising solutions that leverage the power of storytelling with 30-second advertising."
20. Carolina Lightcap
President, Disney Channels Worldwide
In many ways, the international market is the new land grab in cable. Lightcap oversees expansion of 94 kids-centric Disney channels around the world.
Lightcap on International: "Disney Channel has long been a global business. International growth is one of the strategic priorities for the entire Disney Company, along with creativity and innovative technology."
21. Sue Naegle
President, HBO Entertainment
Last year it was the clotting factor of True Blood that made Naegle smile. This year the hemoglobin continued to flow for that hit series, adding bite to the solid wood of Boardwalk Empire, the Prohibition-era drama of Atlantic City politics-as-crime that Naegle renewed within days of its Sept 19 premiere. The opener averaged 5mln viewers during the 9pm hour to score the largest premiere audience for HBO in 6 years.
22. Wonya Lucas
EVP/COO, Discovery Channel and Science Channel
Lucas’ new post as COO of the flagship Discovery brand puts her in a leadership role with the network’s strategy and operations. She also has expanded oversight of the research and marketing departments.
Her Proudest Moment: "Being at the Discovery Channel during a very intense year. From the company-wide effort behind the launch of our epic special, Life, to helping our viewers during the loss of Captain Phil from Deadliest Catch, I’m proud to work with an amazing team."
23. Michele Ganeless
President, Comedy Central
Laughter often is the best medicine. So it was with Comedy Central, as Ganeless led the network through the recession and pushed it to 3 consecutive months of growth this summer, including its most-watched and highest-rated July and August ever. Of course, Comedy’s late-night dominance remained steady, with Jon Stewart picking up yet another Emmy and teaming with Stephen Colbert for a huge D.C. rally in October.
24. Christine Driessen
Driessen played key roles this year in ESPN’s international investments, its multi-year extension with the ACC and the launch of ESPN 3D.
Driessen on Multiplatform: "We look at the influence these platforms can have in reaching sports fans during each rights deal, new business launches, like espnW, and acquisitions."
25. Mary Murano
EVP, TV Networks Distribution, NBCU
Murano heads the regional sales group in crafting distribution agreements, sales strategies and marketing partnerships for NBCU’s cable networks and the Olympics on cable.
Murano on Distribution: "As the distribution landscape continues to become more complex with content on multiple platforms, continuing to focus our effort on building strong partnerships with our distributors will be key to our success."
26. Tonia O’Connor
EVP, Distribution Sales and Marketing, Univision
O’Connor spearheads new media, technology and hi-def efforts at the top-rated Spanish language network.
O’Connor on Technology: "Hispanics are early adopters, which makes new media a key growth driver for Univision and our distribution partners."
27. Linda Yaccarino
EVP/COO, Turner Entertainment Ad Sales/Marketing and Acquisitions
Look for Yaccarino to push the envelope on marketing and sales initiatives around the upfront and as TBS rolls out Conan O’Brien’s show.
Yaccarino on Conan: "With the Conan deal, TBS crashed through the barriers of broadcast and cable and achieved pricing parity for the first time in the history of entertainment."
28. Kathleen Finch
Finch took the reins this fall at HGTV after a successful turn at DIY, where she shepherded key partnerships.
Finch on Branding: "A surprise door-knock by an HGTV star, an ambush make-over arranged by a best friend, the chance to get your entire home redecorated – provided you let online votes make all the design decisions. My focus this year will be experiences that bring the HGTV brand to life in new ways."
29. Debra Lee
Under Lee’s leadership, BET has seen ratings upticks. Her focus now is on injecting more news, scripted drama and public affairs into BET’s lineup.
Lee on Programming: "We want to be known as content creators, and at the same time, use our platforms to reflect our audience’s voice and our culture. This reinvigorated approach to original content speaks to how we have evolved as a network and as a brand."
30. Denise Denson
EVP, Content Distribution and Marketing, MTV Nets
With 28 channels under her purview, Denson has been busy inking distribution deals, including agreements with Comcast and Cox this past year.
Denson on Distribution: "Distributors have expanded their offerings so greatly in recent years. Our opportunity is to put the power of our content behind all of those new platforms and products."
31. Louise Sams
EVP/General Counsel, TBS
As Turner grows globally, Sams’ priorities increasingly include a focus on international deals.
Sams on Growth Overseas: "There are many countries where we are seeing a solid growth in subscribers, year on year, and a demand by distributors and consumers alike for quality programming"
32. Lori Conkling
EVP, National Accounts, Field Sales and Canada, AETN
Conkling’s scope includes negotiating corporate agreements across multiple platforms, including linear, VOD, HD and broadband for AETN’s 10 networks.
Conkling on New Platforms: "We offer our content via the television, broadband and mobile devices. At the end of the day, we need to ensure that our content is available when and how our viewers want to access it."
33. Frances Berwick
Since joining Bravo in 1996, the thoughtful and understated Berwick has presided over a 33% expansion of the network’s original programming slate, a skyrocketing sub base (up to 95mln from 25mln) and a 400% jump in revenue.
34. Susan Swain
Swain’s daily routine is dizzying, especially when C-SPAN’s President and Co-COO is in the studio at 4:30 am on Thursdays, preparing to anchor Washington Journal. She also exec produces C-SPAN documentaries and oversees programming, marketing, Web sites and education efforts.
Will We See Cameras in The Supreme Court? "I’d say yes, because I’m an optimist, and I hope to live a long life! Polling shows strong public support (more than 60%) for it. While Chief Justice Roberts doesn’t seem to look too favorably on it right now, I’m hopeful that, over time, as he’s joined by more Baby Boomer (or younger) justices, they will bring their generational comfort with video to the Court and consensus will emerge. I said I was an optimist, right?"
35. Marjorie Kaplan
President/GM, Animal Planet Media Enterprises
In 3 years, Kaplan has made over the network with a new logo, brand campaign and programming strategy. And her ’10 WICT speech rocked.
Kaplan on the Future: "We’ve transformed from an animal niche channel to an entertainment destination. Now we know there’s no ceiling on what we can offer viewers. Look for Animal Planet to continue bold experiments with content."
36. Laureen Ong
President, Travel Channel
After a successful stint at National Geographic Channel, Ong returned from an overseas post to take on Travel Channel at a time when the network is broadening its programming slate.
Ong on Team-Building: "Building great teams has got to be the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my job. I have been fortunate to have been associated with a number of impressive organizations and accomplishments — none of that would have been possible without great teams."
37. Sheila Nevins
President, Documentary and Family Programming, HBO
Arguably the most influential exec in the documentary world, Nevins’ numbers are epic. She’s got 34 prime-time Emmys, 37 news and doc Emmys, 15 Academy Awards, and 25 Peabody Awards.
38. Dana Zimmer
EVP, Network Distribution and Dev, Comcast Networks
Following her promotion to EVP, Zimmer oversees growth and revenue at Comcast’s sports and entertainment nets.
Zimmer on Distribution: "The biggest opportunity is creating the business model and technology standards for the distribution of pro games via authenticated mobile and online streaming."
39. Kim Martin
Pres/GM, WE tv, Wedding Ctrl
With her luminescent smile, Martin doubled down on nuptials, launching multi-platform network Wedding Central in a recession. Her success with WE tv propelled that decision.
Martin on Weddings: "While not recession-proof, weddings are recession-resistant – people still get married, they just keep a tighter watch on their budgets. Through WE tv, we know first-hand the immense popularity of bridal programming and its inherent advertiser appeal."
40. Carole Tomko
President/GM, Discovery Studios
As head of content development and production for Discovery worldwide, Tomko was tapped to lead development of Discovery’s next landmark programming event, Curiosity.
Tomko on Programming: "In the same way Planet Earth and Life were game changers in the natural history genre, we are developing a body of content that will be innovative across multiple platforms."
41. Brenda Freeman
CMO, Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media
Freeman’s wide-ranging marketing plans have spurred significant ratings growth.
Freeman on Kids’ Habits: "Our quest is to find intriguing ways of messaging our content; tactics include viral seeding on social nets, gaming platforms, mobile and iPad apps."
42. Christina Norman
Norman’s got a major job ahead in ’11 — launching OWN, one of the biggest startups in memory.
Norman on 2011: "The biggest opportunity we have is a product of the environment. We have the ability to take advantage of new technology, new learning and collaborate with the creative community in a fresh way to deliver on OWN’s promise to our audience."
43. Beth Roberts
EVP, NBCU Cable Ent & Cable Productions Business Affairs
Roberts’ many accomplishments include leading the expansion of NBCU’s cable properties and shepherding brand integration and digital content deals.
Roberts on Branding: "Advertising revenue is no longer the domain of the network; studios and the production team now have a seat at the table."
44. Laura Nathanson
EVP, Ad Sales, ABC Family
Nathanson is in an enviable spot, heading ad sales at a network whose ratings are soaring.
Nathanson on ’11:"We want to keep up the incredible momentum. We’ve built a top 5 net in key demos, become the viewing destination for millennials, and forged great relationships with the ad community."
45. Patty McCaskill
SVP/Chief Programming Officer, Suddenlink
The dean of MSO programming chiefs, McCaskill leads a team that continues to successfully make retrans deals for SD, HD, VOD and broadband video.
McCaskill on Work-Life: "Dispel the myth that we can have it all. We can’t. We need to choose who and what in our lives are most important and focus on them."
46. Salaam Coleman Smith
President, Style Network
Coleman Smith has driven huge ratings growth, including a near doubling of prime time viewers from ’07 to ’09.
Coleman Smith on the Future: "We look forward to growing our audience, particularly with young diverse women, and establishing Style as the premiere global network and multi-platform brand for women."
47. Gwen Marcus
EVP/Gen Counsel, Showtime
With a post that encompasses legal and business affairs, Marcus leads Showtime’s distribution deals team.
Marcus on Distribution: "Our affiliates are gearing up to take advantage of new ways of distributing product. Those considerations are part of any agreements we have. The challenge is to monetize the distribution and protect our investment in our programming."
48. Kiera Hynninen
EVP, Marketing, Nat Geo Channel, Nat Geo Wild
Hynninen played a key role in the launch of Nat Geo Wild, and she’ll be tasked with marketing it in the year ahead.
Hynninen on Nat Geo Wild’s Big Cat Week: "More than just a programming event, it’s an extension of National Geographic Society’s Big Cat Initiative, a long-term commitment to address the global crisis faced by these iconic and endangered species."
49. Colleen Fahey Rush
EVP, Research, MTV Networks
Fahey Rush’s research on teens/millennials has looked at spending, gaming and even digital abuse.
Fahey Rush on Measurement: "As content is consumed in more ways across multiplying platforms, improved measurement is absolutely crucial for us as an industry. Everything hinges on measurement."
50. Kelly Regal
The "typical day at work" doesn’t exist for Regal, who’s involved with everything from HR to media-buying. TBS turned to her for media strategy when a tall, red-haired comedian joined the fold.
Regal’s Philosophy: "Time and experience have taught me to work hard, take risks and try new things, listen more than I talk and surround myself with team members whose strengths make us better together."