The past year has presented unique challenges to the TV industry, to broadband providers — to the entire country. Even with vaccines coming to address the pandemic, the disruptions to TV production, the demands on broadband networks from at-home work, the impacts on live sports and other in-person events and the growth of direct-to-consumer streamed entertainment will continue into 2021 and perhaps beyond.
Broadband networks held up amid fears of the strains from new household demand, and underscored the need to continue enhancing networks to accommodate new applications. Entertainment companies have reorganized their operations around streaming, and emerging platforms have grown into important roles in distributing content. News, sports and entertainment providers have had to respond nimbly to the changes.
With all this in mind, the editors of Multichannel News have identified key individuals who will be leaders in executing on the new plans and new approaches facing the industry next year and beyond. We’ve numbered them 1–25 and assembled this list with those of our Future-owned sister publications — these will be people to watch. And we all will be watching.
11. Chris Wallace
Anchor, ‘Fox News Sunday’
Wallace is the anchor of the Sunday morning public-affairs program, and moderated the stormy first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Sept. 29. The debate was the highest-rated in cable news history with nearly 18 million viewers and was his second time moderating for the Commission on Presidential Debates. In July, Wallace’s wide-ranging interview with Trump was met with praise from both sides of the aisle.
12. Craig Moffett
Partner and Senior Research Analyst, Moffett Nathanson
The authoritative voice on U.S. cable and satellite broadcasting, Moffett has been elected to Institutional Investor magazine’s All-American Research Team in the U.S. Telecom and/or Cable & Satellite sectors on 18 occasions. Prior to founding MoffettNathanson, he spent more than 10 years at Sanford Bernstein & Co. as a senior research analyst. He was previously at Sotheby’s Holdings and The Boston Consulting Group.
13. James Pitaro
Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content
Pitaro was named to oversee ESPN and Sports Content on Oct. 12, as part of The Walt Disney Co.’s strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment businesses, focusing on ESPN’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content for Disney’s cable channels, ESPN+ and ABC. He was named ESPN president and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, in 2018, after eight years as a top Disney executive.
14. Charlie Ergen
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board, Dish and EchoStar
Ergen co-founded Dish, formerly EchoStar Communications, in 1980 and currently acts as chairman for both Dish and EchoStar. He oversees Dish’s business development and strategy as well as its emerging wireless division, the focus of much speculation. Recently, Ergen has focused on reaching new markets and expanding product and service offerings including Sling TV and acquisition of wireless spectrum.
15. Jon E. Kirchner
Chief Executive Officer, Xperi
Kirchner’s Xperi, parent company of TiVo, recently resolved TiVo’s four-year battle with Comcast over alleged patent infringement, signing a retroactive licensing pact. The settlement removes an expense and opens opportunities in other pay-TV markets, including Canada. Previously Kirchner was president of Xperi following the completion of the acquisition of DTS in December 2016. Before that, he worked for the consulting and audit groups at what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
16. Kevin Keefe
Senior VP and Segment Leader, Broadband Networks, CommScope
Keefe oversees development and delivery of CommScope’s end-to-end product portfolio of CCAP, PON, video systems, access technologies and fiber, coaxial and copper connectivity solutions serving the telco and cable provider broadband market. He joined CommScope through its acquisition of Arris, and he joined Arris after the acquisition of Motorola Mobility’s Home business. CommScope pioneered many of the technologies and specifications that define today’s networking landscape.
17. Gil Katz
Senior Vice President, Cable Access Business Operations, Harmonic
Katz oversees sales and sales strategy of cable access solutions at Harmonic, the worldwide leader in virtualized cable access and video delivery solutions. He accelerates deployments of the company’s CableOS solution and ensures technical support for new deployments. He is also responsible for managing and developing the global CableOS lab integration and field trial team. Earlier, he led the development and implementation of next-generation architectures for Harmonic’s cable edge and access markets.
18. Michelle Sneed
President of Production and Development, Tyler Perry Studios
Sneed oversees all film, television and digital media projects for the prolific Tyler Perry Studios and serves as executive producer on several TV series, including “The Oval,” “Sistas” and “Ruthless.” Earlier she was a director of physical production for BET Networks. She has been affiliated with Tyler Perry Studios for more than 10 years. As a member of the studio’s original team (at Greenbriar), she produced more than 400 episodes of television content.
19. Chris McCarthy
Pres., MTV Entertainment, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
McCarthy, who has steadily risen in responsibility at ViacomCBS, is in the position of overseeing franchises MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo Media and their respective content studios. He assumed his current title in November 2019 shortly after the ViacomCBS merger. Known for a successful track record in transforming businesses and creating content that shapes pop culture, McCarthy had been president of MTV since October 2017.
20. Suzanne Scott
CEO, Fox News Media
Scott’s purview encompasses Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network (FBN), Fox News Digital, Fox News Audio, Fox News Books and the direct-to-consumer subscription streaming services Fox Nation and Fox News International. She became the company’s first female CEO in May 2018. Since then she has added four new platforms to the brand (two of which launched just this year), which expects to continue growing under a Biden-Harris administration: FNC’s highest percent share of the ratings came during the Obama-Biden years.
21. Jake Tapper
Anchor and Host, State of the Union, CNN
Tapper guided viewers through the presidential election, just as he’s done throughout the many bizarre events in recent times. His commentary at the end of “State of the Union” has been vital in helping political insiders and viewers make sense of these times. On Nov. 15, he blasted the GOP for not admitting Biden won. “How long is the Republican Party going to continue to defer to unhinged mendacious desperation, led by the gang that couldn’t sue straight?” Tapper said.
22. Wonya Lucas
President and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks
Lucas took the helm at Crown Media Family Networks in August, overseeing linear networks Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama; subscription video-on-demand service Hallmark Movies Now; and publishing division Hallmark Publishing. The former Discovery and The Weather Channel executive had been president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, and before that was president and CEO of TV One, where she became the second African-American woman to hold those titles at a cable network.
23. Jessica Rosenworcel
Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
Rosenworcel, whether it is as senior Democratic commissioner, acting FCC chair or chair, will be a big player in regulatory policy in an upcoming Biden Administration. She is likely to lead an effort to reimpose net neutrality rules unless Congress beats her to it, and could expand broadband subsidies to more pandemic-sequestered students. She first joined the FCC in May 2012, exited due to political infighting unrelated to her service, then, was reinstalled in 2017.
24. Stephen Espinoza
Pres., Sports & Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.
Espinoza was promoted to his current role in January 2018. Under his leadership, Showtime has become the leading outlet for live boxing. He helped orchestrate one of the biggest deals in boxing history when Showtime secured the exclusive TV rights to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. He’s responsible for developing and executing overall strategy, including acquiring all sports and event programming for Showtime and Showtime PPV. The original lineup includes “All Access” and “Inside The NFL” and sports documentaries.
25. Lena Waithe
Emmy Award-winning writer, creator, producer and actor Lena Waithe has proven herself a talent to be reckoned with. In 2019, she signed a new overall deal with Amazon Studios and will work to create and produce original series, which will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. She had previously been under a first-look deal at Showtime to produce projects through her company, Hillman Grad Productions.
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