With 24 years in the cable industry under his belt, NBC Universal's Douglas Holloway is getting his due as a power broker. Black Enterprise magazine recently ranked the Peacock's president of cable investments as the seventh most powerful African-American broker in Hollywood, ahead of such luminaries as Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy. Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead talked to Holloway about his role at NBCU and the company's future investment endeavors.
MCN: What was your reaction to being named by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the top 10 African-American Hollywood brokers?
Douglas Holloway: It was really surprising … I had no idea. This was done through [Black Enterprise's] external research. At first I felt surprised and shocked, and then it was a feeling of being hugely privileged for a couple of reasons. First, the group that they lumped me in with far exceeds my own perceptions of myself; and then second, I felt a bit proud that I was able to represent so many of us that have toiled away in the cable, television and film business for such a long time, who have been by and large overlooked.
MCN: What are you currently working on at NBCU?
DH:Since the merger, I've been doing a lot of things. Primarily, I've been overseeing a group of our joint-venture companies. I'm involved in overseeing our investment in A&E [Television Networks], Shop NBC and Weather Plus, the first digital broadcast channel which also has cable carriage. I've been overseeing that, as well as looking for new opportunities to develop and create content for cable. I also oversee an ad hoc group of production and sales people that are creating and selling programming for cable networks outside of our stable of networks. It's a new startup business for us.
MCN: On the investment side, is NBCU looking at investing in other networks or creating new networks?
DH: We don't have an active investment portfolio going right now, but we're constantly evaluating things and finding out what's out there. We've had a number of different discussions that are in different stages.
MCN: In your opinion, is it easier now in this marketplace to invest in an existing brand as opposed to trying to create a new brand that can make some noise in this crowded environment?
DH: Creating new brands is very tough right now. The opportunity to create new brands on traditional platforms may have come and gone, but new platforms are the way to go. We've developed a number of outlets on the internet in the digital space, so I think that's more where the future opportunities lie for us and for others.
MCN: You've been very involved on the diversity front throughout your cable career. Is the industry continuing to move in the right direction regarding diversity both in front of the camera and in the executive ranks?
DH: If you look at the CableFax top 100 executives and count the few minorities on that list, the answer is readily apparent. It tells us that we still have a long way to go and have not made a tremendous amount of progress over the past 25 years.
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