Skip to main content

Cable Clairvoyant

Jennifer Ball received some media-savvy paternal advice in her younger
years that put her at the forefront of a booming market.

“My father, who always wanted to take credit for my career, wrote
career columns for The [Boston] Globe, The Chicago Tribune and The
New York Times. He said, ‘Don’t go into plastics. Cable is the future.’

Today, the future is a combination of cable and the Hispanic
market — right where Ball lives as senior vice president
of affi liate marketing at Univision Communications.

Th e 2010 U.S. Census proved what the cable industry already
knew: that the U.S. Hispanic population is growing
faster than any other demographic, with a whopping 43%
increase in a decade. Thanks in part to Ball’s leadership,
Univision is poised to capitalize on this huge growth sector,
ideally to the mutual benefi t of the programmer and
its distributors.


“Univision is a category driver,” Ball says. “We are experts
in the area of Hispanic media across the board. Th e knowledge
base on how to market to this audience as well as
the assets that we have available is at an entirely diff erent
level than others.

Earlier this year, Ball put together Univision’s Distribution
Partnership Marketing Group, which serves as a
marketing consultancy group for the network’s affi liate

“This isn’t just about promoting tune-in,” Ball says. “It’s
about teaching our partners the cultural relevancies needed
to reach the Hispanic market. It’s very custom-tailored
to each distributor.”

Ball’s group off ers consumer research and insight, as
well as a creative services team that works closely with
distributors’ own marketing groups.

Ball is also heading up distributor marketing for key
elements of Univision’s future growth. In October, Univision
announced a pact with Hulu under which it is providing
hundreds of hours of programming to the online
video service. And this month, the Hispanic media giant
wrapped up its fi rst affi liate deal, with Dish Network,
for a trio of new networks: Univision Deportes, Univision
tlNovelas and Univision Noticias. Th e channels, plus
a second sports outlet, are scheduled to go live on the
satellite-TV provider this spring.

Ball says the most exciting part of her work is being involved
in “the transformation of Univision as a company
in the midst of the transformation of America. It’s like
being part of a big movement. That’s extremely exciting.”

Ball grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and knew she wanted to
get into the television industry from a young age. She specialized
in TV and theatre at New York’s Edward R. Murrow
High School and then studied communications at
Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Her first job was at Cablevision Systems in Boston as
an assistant in the door-to-door sales group. Her supervisors
fostered her interests by allowing her to write and
produce commercials “in addition to collecting dusty converter
boxes,” she jokes.

She moved into the corporate offi ce of Continental Cablevision
soon thereafter and went on to become manager
of the Northeast business after US West bought the company
and re-named it MediaOne Group in the mid-1990s.

“I had a big role in launching the brand both in corporate
and in the field,” she says. “We were the fi rst to go from
just providing cable TV service to providing phone and Internet

She moved back to New York in 1999 when she landed
a job as manager of affi liate marketing at A&E Television
Networks. “I always wanted to work for a programmer,”
she says. “I particularly admired A&E’s programming and
how they worked closely with their partners toward a common
goal.” Ball was promoted to director in 2002, and in
2006 she was named vice president of distribution marketing.

While at AETN, she developed a number of crossplatform
strategies that helped to elevate the network’s
ratings and brand presence. She was part of a team that
launched video-on-demand, A&E HD, History HD and
other new products, and oversaw the positioning of those
networks with distributors.

“During her time at A&E is really when non-linear content
started to become prevalent in the industry,” A&E
Networks executive vice president of distribution David
Zagin says. “Jennifer made sure her clients understood the
value of what we were providing in the non-linear space.”


Her current boss, Univision executive vice president of
distribution sales and marketing Tonia O’Connor, has
known Ball for nearly 15 years.

When O’Connor (a 2010 Wonder Woman) joined Univision
in 2008, tasked with signing retransmission-consent
deals across the industry, she knew she needed a team to
help distributors understand the value of the audience
Univision could deliver — a team that understood the
market from both the programming and distribution side.

“When I reach out to people I secretly want to recruit,

I say, ‘Do you happen to know anyone?’ ” O’Connor says
playfully. “She circled back and let me know she did know
someone, and it happened to be herself.”

“She’s very clear about the fact that she always wants to
beat expectations,” O’Connor says. “She wants her team to
perform as well, but she’s very clear in defining what that
is and what it looks like.”

Ball’s understanding of Hispanic culture also comes
from her personal life. “I’m married to a Venezuelan,” she
says of her husband, Enrique. “That’s where my interest
in the Latin culture began.” They have two children, a son
Ben, 14, and a daughter, Lily, 10.


Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Age: 44

Current job: SVP, affi liate marketing,
Univision Communications

First job: Cablevision Systems,

College: Clark University (majored in
communications and sociology)

Favorite TV shows: Mad Men,
Modern Family, Univision music

Musical tastes: “I love Latin music;
I’m a big fan of Pitbull [and] Shakira.”