With so many incredible technologists innovating every day in the cable industry, it’s always hard to single anyone out for recognition. But we think Cox Communications EVP & CTO Kevin Hart deserves the honor, not just for his decades of industry experience and wisdom—but because he has helped lead Cox boldly into new technological pastures involving personalization, faster product lifecycles and of course, broadband. The company’s rollout of its next-generation TV experience known as Contour continues to push the envelope.

Indeed, Hart’s the rare technologist who understands that customers, not techie execs, ultimately will decide what technology and software makes it in the marketplace. And in such a competitive environment, Hart’s dedication to smartly applied technologies and working collaboratively with other Cox units to ensure smooth adoption has been key to this mid-size MSO’s success in a world of giants. “We’re trying to lead the market where it makes sense and provide great quality of service,” he says. “There’s definitely an element of competitive positioning. But we want to offer the right level of service for our customers based on what they use and need and want.”

To that end, we chatted with Hart about both Cox’s tech strategy and his own personal secrets to success.

What achievements for you and your team have made you most proud over the last year?
I’m definitely proud of the things we’ve accomplished and delivered, whether it’s Contour, whether it’s our network upgrades, whether it’s some of the products we’ve delivered for Cox Business. But I think I’m probably most pleased and proud about the way that we’ve aligned the entire company around technology delivery. We’ve got strong alignment with our strategy team, marketing team, product team, ops, finance, HR. If you take Contour, for example … We really optimized end to end the deployment and operational support of that particular product, and we’re doing that in other areas… I’m really pleased with the functional part of how this has come together… It’s an ongoing and evolving communication and teamwork effort, but we have a good running start.”

How is the Contour rollout going, and what kind of reaction have you received from customers so far?
It’s going quite well. We’re very pleased with the market uptake and the level of service… We’re seeing an uptake in terms of use of the personalized recommendation engine, so that’s been a home run. The second screen usage—particularly with events like the World Cup, with people taking their video on the run and watching things from a mobile perspective, just the ease of it—has been outstanding. I think one of the main benefits has been the increase in whole home DVR storage capability. It’s the six tuners, the two terabytes and just being able to watch their shows has been a big positive piece of customer feedback. So I think that whole package has been well received. We’re north of 500,000 customers, and we continue to roll out. We just had our recent Contour 2.2 upgrade, and the quality of the customer experience continues to get better month over month.

What advice would you have for a junior person trying to achieve your level of success?
First, you have to make a plan, create a vision. You have to create a vision and a mission statement for your own career. Some goals, some milestones. They may evolve over time, but to have a focal point in terms of the training, the experiences, the mentors that you surround yourself with is a great place to start. It’s also about taking calculated risks. Sometimes folks may not want to take a risk or take on new assignments for fear of failure. But you have to take those calculated risks and evolve your skill set and your experiences…. You have to surround yourself with great people, and in some cases surround yourself with great people who are even more talented and more experienced in certain areas… I played college soccer, so teamwork has always been a key to success of my career. It’s understanding the strength of the folks around you, but then having joint goals, passion and perseverance to succeed.

-Michael Grebb

Fast Facts
Cox is closing in on the one-year anniversary of its Contour TV product, which it launched last August.

Contour now boasts more than 500K customers.

Hart played college soccer and still uses lessons learned about teamwork in his job as CTO.

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