Cablevision Hires Former Energy Exec As Ops EVP

Two years after chief operating officer Tom Rutledge left to become CEO of Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems named former energy executive Robert Comstock to head up operations and customer service initiatives.

In the newly created position of executive vice president, operations, Comstock will report to Optimum Services president Kristin Dolan and be responsible for network management, field operations, outside plant, WiFi execution, and telecommunications network management. He will oversee the customer service and field organizations.

"Rob is a well-regarded and respected leader in creating and maintaining a customer-oriented company culture,” Dolan said in a statement. “His keen insights working with companies that provide essential consumer services make him an ideal person to lead our operations team. Rob's expertise will help Cablevision deliver on its primary goal of providing our customers with the outstanding product and service experience that they deserve and expect."

Focusing on the customer experience and taking advantage of its industry leading penetration rates has been a top priority for Cablevision since Rutledge, its former chief operating officer,  left the company in December 2011, later becoming CEO of Charter Communications.   In his wake, several Cablevision executives followed Rutledge to Charter, including former operations president John Bickham, former EVP of marketing John Hargis,  EVP of corporate technology Jim Blackley, EVP consumer operations Kathleen “Kip” Mayo and media sales COO David Kline.

While Cablevision has foundered after several years of strong growth – in part a victim of its own success – CEO James Dolan has realigned its management team and initiated an 18-point program to shore up operations.

Comstock is a relative unknown in the cable industry – he began his career in 1991 at Hess Corp. and worked at The New Power Company and SUNOCO Inc. before spending the past decade at Houston-based gas and electric utility Direct Energy. At Direct, he most recently served as senior vice president and general manager of its U.S. residential retail energy business, which has about 2 million customers.

Comstock also has experience on the mergers and acquisitions front – Cablevision said he played key roles in facilitating several of Direct Energy's acquisitions.