B+C Hall of Fame 2023: Matt Bond
Chairman, Content Distribution, NBCUniversal
Matt Bond is the Wayne Gretzky of cable programming and distribution deals, says hockey fan Tom Montemagno, executive VP, programming acquisition at Charter Communications.
“I challenge anyone to come up with a name who’s been involved in more transactions,” Montemagno said, noting that Bond has worked with many of cable’s greatest minds — John Malone, Brian and Ralph Roberts, Leo Hindery, Steve Burke and Jeff Shell — becoming a beacon for the industry who has mentored many successful executives.
Read More: Here’s to the 2023 ‘B+C’ Hall of Fame Inductees
Before moving to the content sales side, Bond was head of content acquisition for cable giants Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) and Comcast, making him one of the industry’s most powerful gatekeepers.
“It was like getting a meeting with the pope back in the day,” DirecTV chief content officer Robert Thun said.
When NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was with Comcast, his office was down the hall from Bond’s. Distribution executives “would come to kiss the ring in his office and then traipse down to my office and complain about how unreasonable Matt was,” Shell said. “I, of course, would wait for them to leave and then go back into Matt’s office and have a laugh about it.”
Even Oprah Winfrey couldn’t impress Bond when she was launching OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, according to a former colleague. Bond recalled not liking the channel’s economics.
“I never liked the term gatekeeper,” Bond said. “It implies we had all this power and authority to decide what goes on TV. Programming was as important to us as we were to them. It was a balanced arrangement and obviously they determined what was on the air at the end of the day.”
When Comcast bought NBCU, Burke asked Bond to head content acquisition. “I didn’t have to think about it,” Bond said. “It was an exciting change in my career, something new to do. And I thought I could also create a lot of value.”
Said Shell, “One key to his success is he’s so thoughtful about the world and how our business has changed.” Now Bond negotiates with streaming platforms in addition to traditional pay TV distributors. “I think Matt was clairvoyant in realizing that the future was more similar to the past than people would like to think.”
People he negotiates with say Bond’s elbows are less sharp now that he’s in sales. “Yeah, that’s probably true,” Bond said.
Originally from Las Vegas, Bond went to the University of Denver and law school at the University of Colorado and settled there. He spends time outdoors — hiking, fishing and surfing. He also paints and rescues boxers, sometimes persuading colleagues to adopt large dogs.
Last year, he was climbing a frozen waterfall when he fell over and stopped breathing, suffering what’s known as the widowmaker heart attack. The guide he was climbing with saved his life by performing CPR for 30 minutes and was fortunate to get a cell signal to call a local hospital. A doctor told Bond’s wife, Lisa, that his heart had stopped for 30 minutes and encouraged her not to revive him because he likely suffered monumental brain damage and wouldn’t be able to feed himself. “To her credit, she said no,” Bond said.
Back To Work
Bond was in a coma for two weeks. When he came out of it, he felt few effects. “The doctor came in as I’m eating some breakfast, and he said ,‘I can only explain this as proof of the existence of God,’ ” Bond recalled. A year later, he was ice climbing again in the same spot.
“If you said to me, ‘Who’s the person that’s going to come through this?’ It’s Matt Bond,” said Lori Conkling, global head of TV, film and sports partnerships for YouTube.
“Given what happened to me last year, I’m going to be the happiest person to ever receive this award,” Bond said, referring to joining the B+C Hall of Fame.
“I feel like I started in the Model T era and now I’m finishing in the Tesla era,” he said. “When I look over my life and my career, I’m enormously grateful and enormously lucky. I’ve really been proud to work with everybody. I’ve never had a bad boss. I know, most people can’t say that about their career.”
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.