Winner

Laura J. Lee

SVP, Distribution, Crown Media Family Networks

In a few short years, Laura Lee has rapidly advanced from a regional director to her current position as head of all distribution for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. It’s no wonder why. Her tenacity and persistence has paid off in recent years, especially when it comes to growing Hallmark Movie Channel, which has soared to 45mln subs amid an environment of tight capacity and sometimes overwhelming skepticism from distributors. From the time Hallmark Movie Channel became a Nielsen-rated network in late 2010, Lee hasn’t looked back. And according to the 2011 Beta Research study, the net was ranked as the #1 cable network non-affiliates want to carry by an overwhelming majority (88%). That’s a 22% increase in operator interest over 2010, and it’s largely due to Lee’s tireless advocacy. Even more amazing is that Lee can achieve these milestones at an independent network that faces competition from huge media conglomerates with dozens of channels and far larger staffs. As an indie, Hallmark has very little leverage. But under Lee, it has bagged big results stemming mainly from her refusal to quit and devotion to relationship building. We love to watch her work…
 

Honorable Mentions

Deanna Andaverde
SVP, Field Operations,
Univision Communications
For all practical purposes, Andaverde works the trenches for Univision with oversight not only of its cable nets but also its local broadcast stations. Despite a tough economy and distributors’ limited familiarity with Spanish-language content, Andaverde was able to drive 126 renewal deals and VOD launches reaching more than 34mln subs.
 
Bradley Fleisher
SVP, TV Networks Distribution,
NBCUniversal
With 14 years under his belt at NBCU, Fleisher oversees the Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications accounts as he negotiates for NBCU’s considerable content portfolio including not only major nets like USA, Bravo and CNBC but also the company’s emerging nets like Cloo (formerly Sleuth), Chiller and mun2. He also oversaw authentication efforts with the 2010 Olympics. Fleisher continues to take the gold…
 
Michelle Rice
EVP, Affiliate Sales & Marketing, TV One
Since taking on her current role in ’08, Rice has continued to steadily grow TV One’s distribution, reaching 56mln homes in 2011 partly due to successfully wooing Cablevision, which launched the net throughout its systems in Aug. Meanwhile, she and her team added nearly 4mln subs to TV One HD’s rolls last year as it hits 14mln homes. Cox Communications’ Kathy Payne notes that Rice “has done an excellent job in selling the value of TV One.” We agree.
 
Brent Scott
VP, National Accounts,
Scripps Networks Interactive
Scott, who handles contract negotiations for HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country, manages the DirecTV, DISH and Cablevision relationships that account for nearly 40% of Scripps’ distribution. Known as an innovator, Scott’s mantra is to “think big,” says vp, affiliate relations Jeff Wilke. It shows.
 
Michael Smith
Operating VP of Affiliate
Relations, HSN
Smith not only oversees distribution of HSN’s linear nets but also heads up the home shopping giant’s advanced services, including its Shop by Remote iTV service, which now reaches well over 30mln subs. HSN HD added 8mln subs in 2011, with more than 36mln homes.

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