When Cablefax was debating who to induct into this year’s Sales Hall of Fame, we vetted a lot of candidates. But when Lisa Delligatti’s name came up, it was a pretty easy choice. The VP, Distribution and Partnerships at Al Jazeera America has been in cable sales for years, commanding respect wherever she goes. And not only does her innovative mind and creative spirit impress execs on both sides of the negotiating table, but Delligatti’s drive to make it happen has helped this fledgling network go from 40 million households it inherited in August when it took over and rebranded Current TV to 52 million households today.
That’s pretty incredible growth when you consider the strong opinions and perceptions that surrounded the channel when it launched. Many gave it little chance of survival. But if there’s one thing Delligatti has learned through her years of experience helping boost carriage for nets ranging from SiTV to UP, it all comes down to one-on-one education and proving the business case. “The most exciting part of my job is the ‘aha moment,’ when the distributor/partner gets what we are doing and agrees that ‘this channel is really good, it is different than what I thought, and isn’t biased’,” she says. “It’s just good programming with a unique value… As an independent, you have to work hard, be creative and realize you don’t have the leverage you did when working for a big network group. So you have to find ways to build value, through marketing, advertising and relationships.”