Tom Rutledge
Title: COO, Cablevision
Age: 55
Education: BA, U of CA; Adv Mgmt Program, Harvard U

Why Him? A fine year for Cablevision was capped by the Supreme Court’s deciding late in June to pass on the network DVR challenge. Personally rewarding was Rutledge’s induction into Cable’s Hall of Fame. The well-crafted Hall video introducing Rutledge was illustrative of the diversified COO he’s become. While traditional cable scenes framed it, much footage was devoted to Newsday, Madison Square Garden, regional programming nets, the bundle and Rainbow Media’s prize property AMC and its iconic Mad Men.

Churn Buster: Laugh all you want about free Wi-Fi being a bigger draw at Madison Square Garden than the Knicks, but the growth of Cablevision’s free-to-sub Optimum Wi-Fi impresses. In April, Rutledge said subs used it to access the Internet 1mln+ times; in June, that number doubled; in late Oct, it was 5 million.

The Year Ahead:

With loss leader Madison Square Garden set to spin off in Dec, Rutledge’s contract up on Dec 31 and CVC’s interactive ads gaining steam, ’10 could be interesting. If Rutledge can match his performance in a recession — CVC’s 3Q profit tripled to $99mln as Rainbow’s ad revenue jumped 18% — would you bet against him?

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