We have a new no. 1 atop our annual list of media power players. And we can think of at least one person who will be happy about that. Why the shift? Even given a society that loves hyperbole like absolutely nothing else ever, this has truly been a year for the books in this industry, full of reckoning, remaking and reregulating. As we hover between rage and exhaustion, it still feels like we’re just beginning. We once thought we understood what “media disruption” meant. As Salman Rushdie recently put it on CNN, “It’s very difficult sometimes for people to judge truth from untruth.” And that’s the #truth. But didn’t we already know that? “When people say something false, I attack [them] because the news media gets away with murder,” Donald Trump told CNN — in 1990.
In trying to weigh different levels of power for such an annual list, the apples-and-oranges argument sometimes comes down to money and means versus influence. This year, influence rules. Is our top pick some kind of endorsement? No. It’s a warning.
Because of the influence of Donald J. Trump, historic deals may or may not happen, and for seemingly disparate, suspect reasons. Covering this president, the undiscerning news has been remarkable for one thing above all else: pure volume, in every meaning of the word. A petulant tweet sent at 6:30 a.m. is fodder for an entire day’s news cycle and for late-night laughs. Times are supposed to change; just not this much this quickly.
Related: The B&C and Multichannel News Power 100 2016
Thank goodness the other top power players on our list fill in all the binge-worthy gaps. In the content wars, we’re truly being ruled by the growing muscle of Netfl — oh, sorry: streaming — and how best to funnel programming to as giant a swath of the globe as possible for as much time as possible. Among top companies, where levels of power are frequently based on “going bigger,” true leaders are separating themselves from once-mighty corporations, fueled by huge spending, artificial intelligence and winning strategy.
New actions in the worlds of data measurement, law deregulation and technology will shift the paradigm further in 2018. Individual series — such as the POTUS-favored Fox & Friends and the constantly jabbing and incisive Last Week Tonight With John Oliver — seem made for these turbulent times. As they say in motorsports, better pull those seat belts tighter.
You will see familiar names on this list, including C-level execs, government officials, producers, talent, agents, creators and analysts. How do we make our choices? CEOs and controllers of giant companies are inevitably rated high. Is someone elevated because that proposed merger is around the corner? Not necessarily; this is more a snapshot of this very moment. (We’re talking to you Mr. Iger.) Typically and shamefully, there is not nearly enough diversity on this list. Among other observations, there are too few women. But there is now a most welcome sense that that is about to change.
Related: Power 100 2015
1. Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
(LAST YEAR’S RANKING: —)
Was it shock, denial or the audacity of hope that made us relegate the president-elect to a special box in these pages last year? He received much consideration, after using media influence like a rusty saw to carve a most unorthodox path to the White House. In that box, we predicted his presidential influence could spread to “news coverage, corporate tax structure, regulation, net neutrality and M&A, among many others.” One year later, it’s clear our sampling hardly went far enough.
Those who believe Trump governs solely by whim are mistaken, but given a bloated, yet increasingly hungry, news cycle, his whims make tons of news. Tweets about selling CNN upended and rescheduled AT&T’s attempts to merge with Time Warner, one of the biggest deals ever. Bullying shouts of “fake news” have remade the foundations of trust as they are broadcast across America. One brief mention of Colin Kaepernick at a campaign rally singlehandedly kindled anti-NFL fervor. Putting Ajit Pai atop the FCC will shift the rules landscape. But still … does Trump produce content? No; he simply is content, and apparently the most compelling change agent this business has seen.
2. Brian Roberts
Chairman and CEO, Comcast
The good news: NBC will televise the cash cow Super Bowl in 2018. The bad news: NFL ratings started the season by taking a knee, down 7.5% through the first six games, including drops for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Thankfully, football (which has improved) is only one part of Comcast’s ever-evolving equation. Like all media moguls, Roberts has continued to embrace broadband, admitting during an underwhelming third-quarter earnings call (earnings up, revenue and subcribers down) that the majority of cash flow comes through those channels (it added 214,000 web users year-over-year).
Roberts and Comcast were reportedly looking to add the prized Fox assets to their ledger, although that pendulum has swung to Disney. Meanwhile, the company’s Xfinity X1 platform keeps rolling into more homes; that, along with the May release of Xfinity Mobile, will make it easier for fans to vote for their favorites on NBC hit The Voice. That NBC still leads in primetime TV, and triumphed with the hit This Is Us, seems secondary to its big business highs and its new uncertainty in morning TV after the swift boot given to Today’s Matt Lauer.
3. Bob Iger
Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Co.
It’s all fun and games until somebody tweaks Mickey’s ears. For Iger, that tweak came from the evolving industry itself. The Magic Kingdom’s content war chest contains traditional Disney and ABC broadcast fare and ESPN’s live sports, plus shiny cash cow purchases Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar. But these days, big isn’t big enough; “bigger” is what’s necessary. Thus the buy of $66.1 billion (including debt) worth of 21st Century Fox assets which, among other things, could mean adding the X-Men to Disney, making Iger the ultimate superhero wrangler.
That deal is key to Iger’s plan to create a streaming service to take on Netflix, and doubling Disney's share of Hulu to 60% will do that. Also, Iger’s announcement of a fourth Star Wars trilogy brings a new level of irony to the title of what will be this season’s box-office winner: The Last Jedi. Interestingly, the Fox deal could create a new Star Wars battle with the Murdochs gaining influence at Disney. For now, Iger’s distribution moves (and Disney’s August $1.58 billion majority buy of BAMTech) should work in ESPN’s favor; its sub count is down to 87 million from over 100 million six years ago. But: Will the Fox deal really win approval? That question is so 2018.
4. Reed Hastings
Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix
What does it mean that “Netflix” is the first word out of anyone’s mouth when talk comes to where the content business is now and where it’s headed? It means Hastings keeps consolidating his interests, building a streaming media and video-on-demand colossus that he’s further fortifying with plans to spend $8 billion in 2018 on original programming. And given that Deloitte says 70% of Americans binge five episodes per sitting, Netflix is in the right place at the right time.
Hastings made the Forbes rich list for the first time this year (he’s worth $2.2 billion, good for No. 359), partly on the strength of Netflix stock rising 60% since January. Yes, he’s raised prices for the service, but it remains reasonable. Netflix acts intuitively, whether it’s using its Dynamic Optimizer AI to chart viewing, or quickly dispatching with Kevin Spacey after sexual misconduct claims arose. Is there a good chance Netflix’s hold will just keep growing? Stranger things have happened.
5. Leslie Moonves
Chairman and CEO, CBS
How much longer can Moonves cry “underdog” in an ever-widening content world? Claiming CBS is like an “old-fashioned production company” compared to The Walt Disney Co., Comcast, Amazon and Netflix, the CBS CEO did report a none-too-shabby $3.2 billion in quarterly revenue and a big rise in affiliate and subscriber fees. But Moonves has a point: Will that be enough in the days ahead?
It won’t, so the ever-savvy CBS CEO is playing to strengths, exploring partnerships and banking on the growth of over-the-top tool CBS All Access, which he says brings triple the revenue per user over broadcast. CBS saw big signups with the OTT premiere of Star Trek: Discovery and the plan is to follow that up with a Twilight Zone reboot (from Jordan Peele), joining a streaming-only lineup that includes The Good Wife spinoff The Good Fight and Will Ferrell police comedy No Activity. Moonves also has the late-night leader with The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, a new multiyear carriage pact with Dish Network and lots of NFL football ad dollars. Yes, CBS is “smaller” than the giants, but Moonves has kept The Eye’s vision intact.
6. John Malone
Chairman, Liberty Media, Liberty Global and Liberty Interactive
Like any passionate landowner, Malone makes every deal with an eye toward the full potential of its acreage. So, with Liberty Global’s reported $35 million investment last month in studio STX Entertainment — which had once looked to grow into a top production company — Malone may be looking to add the power of fellow satellites Starz and Lionsgate to this new, powerful multiplatform equation.
There’s another option, though: Malone may consider joining fellow longtime rival Rupert Murdoch in pursuit of selling some top assets. Complimenting current behemoths Amazon and Netflix for their AI-driven business models in October, Malone also told CNBC that four suitors — Altice, Softbank, Verizon and one as-yet-unnamed — called to see about buying Charter, the second-largest cabler in the U.S., where Malone holds a majority board voting title. Though Malone suggested none of the attempts were high enough, the comments probably wouldn’t have made him feel too welcome at Charter CEO Tom Rutledge’s Thanksgiving table. But if and when Discovery’s $14.6 billion merger with Scripps Networks Interactive happens, you can at least guarantee Malone’s continued obsession with exactly what to do with all that media acreage.
7. Rupert Murdoch
Co-Executive Chairman, 21st Century Fox
(4, 4, 4) ▼
It used to be Rupert Murdoch’s tweets that media folk tried reading into. But he stopped tweeting on March 6, 2016, after marrying Jerry Hall. Has bliss (and have myriad scandals) cut into Murdoch’s drive? That’s a question for media’s most successful family, which now seems to be a tale of two companies: The $66.1 billion (including debt) of assets sold (pending approval) to Disney, and the remaining side with sports holdings, the TV network and profit driver Fox News (featuring Fox & Friends, which, courtesy of the president, wields national influence).
This is a new era: the wily Murdoch could be selling to grow smaller, or else making a play for more Disney action post-sale. Meanwhile, if the deal does happen, the remaining Fox assets fit exactly in Lachlan Murdoch’s wheelhouse. And some reports also suggest James Murdoch might look at a big Disney sale as a way to reconsider his own professional options beyond family holdings. The only surprise about Fox is that nothing surprises: If the AT&T deal falls through, Fox might even try to buy Time Warner again. Would that be worth tweeting about?
8. Randall Stephenson
Chairman and CEO, AT&T
Stephenson’s been working the phones big-time of late. There were calls with the Department of Justice, which moved to block AT&T’s $108.7 billion Time Warner merger. And reportedly calls from Rupert Murdoch, who offered to take CNN off Stephenson’s hands to help the deal go through. And did the president actually call, or did his tweets do the talking for him? This acquisition has been a long time coming for Stephenson, and it will be difficult to finesse it to completion in that gap between talk of antitrust law and First Amendment law.
Stephenson has said, “You’d be naive not to” ask if politics is part of the interference. Of course there’s more talk — about whether Stephenson would part with other sections of Turner to make the deal happen, or talk to CNN CEO Jeff Zucker about poking the president less. But there’s also action: DirecTV Now, up to 1 million customers, is working innovatively in the pay TV space. And tax reform could be a benefit. But for AT&T, the hope to get bigger requires being on hold longer.
9. Susan Wojcicki
We know YouTube is not big on reporting numbers, but here’s one it touted: It plans to add 10,000 people to review its video clips come 2018. This after YouTube pored through close to 2 million videos over the last half-year in search of extremist content. The actions serve two purposes. First, YouTube further clears its name with advertisers claiming the Google video giant placed their ads next to objectionable material. Second, it puts Wojcicki more out there with the service’s 1.5 billion monthly users to improve cred, customer service and the bottom line.
Paid service YouTube TV, announced in August and now available in half of U.S. homes, grew out of YouTube’s status as the viral video warehouse (two words: Carpool Karaoke). And it still has a wealth of hot young content players. But can Wojcicki and her company battle past social issues, such as when brands dropped ads after obscene remarks were found on videos of children? And what about those claims of lack of diversity in hiring? Maybe that 10,000 will be just a necessary start.
10. Ajit Pai
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
There’s “slow” and there’s “FCC slow.” The latter — granted, an apocryphal distinction — could have been easily applied to FCC actions for decades. That is, until Pai took the helm and began systematically deregulating the industry. Loosening rules on media ownership that prevented ownership of a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market, won praise for recognizing the evolution of media and competition. Promising new transparency on agency business was also a welcome change.
It is, however, Pai’s handing of network neutrality — namely, the desire to do away with what his opponents say is the law providing equal access across the internet — that has led to social media conflicts normally reserved for divisive elections. Pai insists the move will protect consumers after years of heavy-handed regulations. Will it all pass muster? And will Pai keep finding himself (as he already has) in the crosshairs when President Trump’s itchy Twitter finger slips too close to treading on First Amendment rights? For better or worse (which is open for debate), Pai’s got considerable power.
11. Richard Plepler
Chairman and CEO, HBO
No Game of Thrones Emmys eligibility in September? No problem: HBO’s 29 primetime Emmy wins were still the most for any television or streaming network, led by Big Little Lies. Overall, HBO’s subscriber revenue was up 12%, a 13-year high for the programmer during third-quarter 2017 in the face of stiff competition from Netflix, Hulu and other emerging video-streaming services. All told, Plepler had another robust year in content and distribution.
12. Tom Rutledge
Chairman and CEO, Charter Communications
After completing his three-year odyssey to purchase Time Warner Cable in 2016, Rutledge spent most of this year fighting off speculation that the second-largest cable operator in the country was a takeover target of Verizon, Sprint, Comcast and Japanese wireless giant Softbank, to name a few. While Charter remains independent, Rutledge’s next test comes early next year when the company is set to launch its wireless service, part of its mobile virtual network operator agreement with Verizon.
13. Jeff Bewkes
Chairman and CEO, Time Warner
Surprisingly, Bewkes might have a job deep into 2018. After selling Time Warner to AT&T in 2016, the deal was stalled in November as the Justice Department sued to force AT&T to give up either DirecTV or Turner, which includes CNN, President Trump’s least-favorite network. Bewkes kept the trains at TW running, with earnings on track to meet full-year guidance (and a payout due him of about $111 million upon a sale). Still, finding a new buyer might be job one if the AT&T deal gets thwarted.
14. David Zaslav
President and CEO, Discovery Communications
The Discovery doyen has the company well-positioned for the future. It will acquire Scripps Networks Interactive, bolstering Discovery’s stash of “real life entertainment,” Zaslav said. It’s also now majority owner of OWN. Discovery is immersed in subscription video-on-demand, with platforms representing Investigation Discovery and Destination America. There’s also a wedding app tied to TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress with more than 500 hours of programming. A new Snapchat channel tells stories about Olympians leading up to the Winter Games.
15. Shari Redstone
Vice Chair, CBS and Viacom
Since emerging from the legal turmoil involving her father Sumner’s business affairs, Redstone has enjoyed a period of relative stability. She ended 2016 by calling off her own proposal to reunite CBS with Viacom under CBS chief Leslie Moonves, who was known not to be keen on the idea. Moonves and Bob Bakish, Redstone’s pick to succeed the ousted Philippe Dauman as Viacom CEO, are each doing their part to make the decision to keep the companies separate look good.
16. Ted Sarandos
Chief Content Officer, Netflix
Sarandos continued to fuel Netflix’s role as a digital disrupter to the traditional television industry by adding to the company’s portfolio of high-quality, binge-worthy content across multiple genres, including Emmy-winning series The Crown and sophomore comedy Master of None. Sarandos also lured prolific producer Shonda Rhimes from ABC by signing the Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator to a multiyear production deal. Nielsen’s coming measurement of the streaming leader should prove interesting.
17. Steve Burke
CEO, NBCUniversal and Senior Executive VP, Comcast
After this year’s upfront, Burke took an uncharacteristic victory lap. He told the Los Angeles Times that NBCU had increased sales by 8% to $6.5 billion, evidence that in the time since Comcast bought NBCUniversal in 2011, and put Burke in charge, it had closed the gap created between itself and the other networks. Now, Burke looks forward to more big hits as NBCU opens 2018 with the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and, on Telemundo, the FIFA World Cup.
18. Lowell McAdam
Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications
McAdam has decided the nation’s largest telecom would rather spend big on new fiber than a cable company. Verizon’s “One Fiber” initiative gibes with its April agreement to buy at least $1.05 billion of up to 12.4 million miles of optical fiber per year from Corning over three years. No wonder: McAdam is high on 5G and over-the-top. He also likes football, and spent $2 billion-plus over five years on NFL game streaming to prove it.
19. Tim Cook
Apple is still figuring out its long-term spot in the content business — which means one should never count it out. In Cook’s evolving vision for the company, Apple continues to be a multimedia force, with its new 4K-capable Apple TV device. And, in a move that grabbed the entertainment sector’s attention, Apple will be pushing even harder into original content, reportedly budgeting $1 billionfor 2018.
20. Ben Sherwood
Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group
Pros for Sherwood: ABC’s The Good Doctor was a quick hit, World News Tonight was the most-watched broadcast network nightly newscast last season and Good Morning America has led the morning daypart in viewers for five years. Cons: Shonda Rhimes is headed to Netflix. And Good Doctor notwithstanding, ABC is still in fourth place among adults 18-49, averaging a 1.6 rating/6 share in the demo, and in third among viewers, averaging 6.64 million.
21. Patrick Drahi
Founder, Altice Group
If money is power, Patrick Drahi has plenty. Forbes just named him one of the wealthiest people in the world with an estimated $5.5 billion net worth. That’s thanks to owning 60% of Netherlands-based Altice, which has been collecting U.S. cable systems — Suddenlink, Cablevision — and is now the fourth-largest U.S. operator. Drahi recently took over as president of the board as part of a management restructuring.
22. Chris Ripley
President and CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group
Sinclair, already one of the biggest and most controversial TV station owners, is doubling down under Chris Ripley. It is looking to complete its acquisition of Tribune Media’s stations, including the major market ones, and all eyes will be watching to see if the conservative must-run commentaries that appear on Sinclair stations now gain essentially national reach via local newscasts. As a major affiliate due for a renewal, Sinclair is making Fox sweat.
23. Charlie Ergen
Chairman, Dish Network and EchoStar
Ergen was an early mover on over-the-top with Sling TV and has enough spectrum to make him a powerhouse as mobile becomes increasingly important. The combative chairman, however, will now push mobile from a different perch, handing president and CEO titles to Erik Carlson and focusing himself on the evolution of the wireless business and the increasing battle for consumers wherever they are. Dish spent big on wireless spectrum earlier this year, and Ergen is ready for battle.
24. Randy Freer
After cutting its teeth with a successful SVOD service and a string of original production wins — and an Emmy night to remember, courtesy of The Handmaid’s Tale — Hulu now adds live TV (and gets a watchful ratings eye from Nielsen). Freer, who succeeded Mike Hopkins in October, now leads a company hoping to drive OTT product innovation for its 47 million users (and rising). Hulu looks to be that next important service by enhancing the way consumers access video services.
25. Kevin Tsujihara
Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment
Tsujihara took the reins from Barry Meyer as chairman and CEO of the iconic television and movie studio in 2013. Under his watch, Warner Bros. has made its DC Comics characters a priority, driving every related business and generating billions in revenue. As a result, 2017 is shaping up to be the company’s most profitable year ever. Tsujihara was expected to stay under new owner AT&T, provided that deal clears government efforts to block it.
26. Bob Bakish
A year into the job as CEO, Bakish appears to have settled in, as Wall Street seems to get his “flagship brands” strategy to stabilize and hopefully turn around the company’s fortunes. Not bad for someone called a caretaker CEO, at least by some. Recent renewal pacts with Charter and Altice USA remove that uncertainty until 2019, but a slump on the affiliate revenue side of the business punished Viacom’s stock this fall. Bakish’s hopes for sports-free skinny bundles were lifted by the launch of Philo’s $16 OTT service with other programmers.
27. Tony Vinciquerra
Chairman, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment
“Tony V” just marked six months at Sony, producer of The Good Doctor, The Goldbergs and S.W.A.T. He was chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group before shifting to an adviser role at Texas Pacific Group. Helping him rethink the television business is Mike Hopkins, new chairman of Sony Pictures Television. The two knew each other from their Fox days, and that shorthand will help them crank out the next hit or two.
28. Albert Cheng
Interim Head of Content and COO, Amazon Studios
Cheng, a veteran TV executive, gained this new post after former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price was ousted in a sexual harassment scandal. Chief operating officer for Amazon Studios since 2015, Cheng, at least for the time being, will be charged not only with developing new content, but repairing existing shows such as perennial award-winner Transparent, which endured the harassment scandal of star Jeffrey Tambor.
29. Randy Falco
President and CEO, Univision Communications
With a new two-year extension under his belt, Falco remains committed to keeping Univision’s unique voice in the Hispanic community strong and relevant through the creation of multiplatform content. Falco, along with Univision chief revenue officer Tonia O’Connor, continued to generate strong earnings for the company in 2017 ($104 million in Q3). Falco was also very vocal on a number of key political issues during the year, including DACA and the growing climate of hate within the country.
30. Dave Watson
President and CEO, Comcast Cable and Senior Executive VP, Comcast
Watson took over for former Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit, who was named a vice chairman of Comcast Corp. in April. And though Watson has sizeable shoes to fill — Smit oversaw the launch of X1, among other milestones — he’s not to be underestimated. The 26-year company veteran knows the cable business very well, served as Comcast Cable’s chief operating officer for seven years and has extensive experience in its newest line — wireless offering Xfinity Mobile.
31. John Martin
Chairman and CEO, Turner
Whether AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner happens or not, Martin has the group well-positioned for the future. One key is an embracing of what Martin calls “fan engagement” through use of more sophisticated AI tech (March Madness’s VR coverage is a good example) and data science. There’s also plenty of original and acquired content, and carriage deals with Sling TV and DirecTV Now to complement traditional cable, satellite and telco distribution.
32. Bonnie Hammer
Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment
Hammer’s key to success is all about consistency. In 2016, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment increased its profit and revenue for the 13th straight year, according to Fortune. And this year, USA Network’s The Sinner, starring and executive produced by Jessica Biel, was one of the top-rated new programs on cable, with the season finale drawing 4.7 million viewers with nearly two million of those in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
33. Dexter Goei
CEO, Altice W.V. and Chairman and CEO, Altice USA
A key lieutenant of Altice N.V. founder Patrick Drahi, Goei helped create its U.S. cable arm, implementing the European telecom giant’s efficiency measures and shaving about $450 million in costs from the former Cablevision and Suddenlink in the first year. While Altice is expected to add to the portfolio in the future — Cox has been named as a possible target — Goei will initially focus on organic growth.
34. Josh Sapan
President and CEO, AMC Networks
Better Call Sapan! Season eight of The Walking Dead came back with a bang, and the AMC chief is focused on spreading its content onto newer platforms. Adfree AMC Premiere is available for Comcast Xfinity customers, and a pair of streaming services, Sundance Now and fright-fest Shudder, is out there too. “We are embracing changing viewing habits by making strategic investments in OTT services that fit well within our programming mandate,” Sapan said earlier this year.
35. Jack Dorsey
Twitter’s stock price is down more than 40% since it went public. The growth of new users on the platform has slowed. And it’s bringing in less revenue this year than it did last year. But since he returned to the CEO role two years ago, the 41-year-old Dorsey has doubled the tweeting character limit to 280, revamped ad policies to better police traffic and watched as the president made the medium his own, raising the platform’s status higher.
36. Pat Esser
President, Cox Communications
Esser has headed up the fourth-largest cable operator in the country for 11 years, maintaining Cox’s stellar customer reputation while continuing to steer the business throughout the ever-changing landscape. Cox was the first U.S. cable operator to license Comcast’s X1 platform for its Contour video offering and has continued to enhance the product, most recently integrating Netflix into its set-tops. Despite speculation it could be the next consolidation domino to fall, Esser maintains Cox’s fierce independence.
37. Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg
Chief Content Officers, Apple TV
Apple TV secured the talents of the former Sony Pictures dynamic duo with the hopes of becoming a major player in the original programming arena. While at Sony, Erlicht and Van Amburg built a reputation for creating successful and iconic programming, including such shows as Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs and The Crown. The industry is anxiously awaiting what the two executives will do with a reported $1 billion budget to produce and acquire original TV shows for Apple TV over the next year.
38. Perry Sook
Chairman, President and CEO, Nexstar Broadcasting Group
While Sook has always taken great pride in Nexstar’s local presence, his growing group is downright national at this point. Nexstar has 170 stations in 100 markets, including those acquired in its $4.6 billion deal for Media General. A Tegna grab may be next. Two decades after he acquired WYOU Scranton, Sook has grown Nexstar into a broadcast behemoth. Chairman of the Television Bureau of Advertising, he’s also a key figure in local broadcasting’s bold ATSC 3.0 ambitions.
39. David Nevins
President and CEO, Showtime
Under Nevins, the network delivered new buzz-worthy shows in 2017 such as comedy series SMILF and White Famous while continuing to drive viewership for veteran shows such as Shameless, The Affair and Ray Donovan. On deck for the premium service in 2018 is the Lena Waithe-produced drama The Chi as well as the Ben Affleck and Matt Damon-directed drama pilot The Hill, starring Aldis Hodge and Kevin Bacon.
40. Nancy Dubuc
President and CEO, A+E Networks
Dubuc earned kudos for A+E’s offbeat upfront presentation this past spring, where she talked about watching General Hospital after school as a kid with her grandmother; also, shows such as Live PD, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath and the Menendez Murders docuseries helped give A&E the storytelling image she wants for it. A successful runout of History’s crusader drama Knightfall from in-house A+E Studios would help further. Dubuc saw a three-year broadcast deal for National Women’s Soccer League games kick off in April on Lifetime.
41. David Poltrack
Chief Research Officer, CBS and President, CBS Vision
In a multiplatform world, measurement has become a defining issue and Poltrack remains acknowledged as the dean of network research executives. Under Poltrack, CBS is working closely with Nielsen as it moves toward its Total Audience format, and it is monetizing more delayed viewers and its out-of-home audience. And another measurable upswing: the hiring of Radha Subramanyam in November as chief research and analytics officer at the Tiffany Network.
42. Jack Abernethy
Co-President, Fox News Channel/Fox Business Network and CEO, Fox Stations Group
It’s been a rough couple of years internally at Fox News, but Abernethy has been the calm at the center of the storm. With Bill O’Reilly, Bill Shine and the late Roger Ailes losing their jobs in harassment scandals, Abernethy steered Fox News Channel and Fox Television Stations to continued success, now with Suzanne Scott alongside as FNC programming president. If the deal with Disney frees Fox up to buy more stations, Abernethy is the solid presence who will run them.
43. John Skipper
President, ESPN Inc. and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks
UPDATE: Timing, it appears, is as fluid a thing as power. On Dec. 18, Skipper announced his resignation from ESPN, citing a substance abuse problem; his predecessor, George Bodenheimer, will take over for 90 days until a replacement is named.
With a new contract reportedly running through 2021, Skipper has proven to be the right person to steer the sports programmer through turbulent times. He’s locked in billions in sports rights to ensure marquee product, and has to figure out how to keep growing revenue to pay for those properties by monetizing ESPN’s massive audiences — perhaps with Disney’s streaming efforts. He’s managed rounds of job cuts and tricky social-media situations involving talent. Perhaps next up: What to do with Fox’s massive regional sports empire?
44. Peter Rice
President, 21st Century Fox and Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group
In September, Rice added a new title to his resume: president, 21st Century Fox, reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. In that role, Rice oversees Fox Broadcasting Co., FX Networks, Fox Sports, National Geographic, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Networks Group Latin America, Europe and Asia. He also sits on the board at Hulu, co-owned by Fox along with Disney-ABC, NBC and Time Warner. Now comes the big “but”: If the Disney deal goes through, Rice could be a key player.
45. Megan Clarken
President of Watch for Nielsen
The wicked smart New Zealander is a master linguist in the universal language of the industry: ratings. Clarken, at home on a stage with a chart and clicker in hand, is leading the company’s efforts to remake itself into a 21st century ratings service, adding data from set-top boxes, OTT services and out-of-home viewing. With Steve Hasker out as Nielsen global president and COO, Clarken is the familiar star player. Meanwhile rival comScore struggles with financial distractions.
46. John Landgraf
CEO, FX Networks and FX Productions
FX continues to crank out standout series — Atlanta, Snowfall, Fargo, American Crime Story — amidst intense competition. Landgraf shed light on his strategy with Multichannel News earlier this year: “We’ve got to punch above our weight [against fighters] who are a lot bigger.” But a sale to the less-edgy Disney could create a conflict regardless of FX’s well-earned rep.
47. Robert Greenblatt
Chairman, NBC Entertainment
Greenblatt makes running a broadcast network look easy. NBC is again the adults 18-49 broadcast ratings leader, averaging a 2.4 rating/9 share season-to-date, half a ratings point ahead of its nearest competitor. Football remains a driver, but don’t discount hits such as This Is Us and The Voice and critically beloved comedies The Good Place and Superstore. And with live programming still a boon, look for Jesus Christ Superstar Live! and Fame-like drama Rise coming this spring.
48. Dana Walden andGary Newman
Chairman, CEOs, Fox Television Group
Overseeing a portfolio that includes Fox Broadcasting Co., 20th Century Fox Television, Fox 21 Television Studios and Twentieth Television, Walden and Newman’s influence can be felt across entertainment. It also doesn’t hurt to have two of this year’s most popular shows in their stable in NBC’s This Is Us, and Fox’s Empire, along with veterans such as ABC’s Modern Family. But they, too, must wait for what a Disney deal means.
49. Jon Feltheimer
CEO, Lionsgate Entertainment
Lionsgate’s $4.4 billion move into premium-network ownership a year ago — buying Starz — is paying early dividends. Lionsgate stock recently hit a high of $33.91, up 60% from when the Starz deal was announced. That deal was the company’s biggest ever, furthering a diversification push under Feltheimer. Lionsgate is up to nearly 90 series on 40 different networks, including Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Casual (Hulu) and Graves (EPIX). The movie studio, meanwhile, began the year with La La Land and ended it with Wonder.
50. Michael Lynton
Chairman of the Board, Snapchat
Michael Lynton, former Sony Entertainment CEO, began 2017 by announcing his move to Snapchat. It’s been an up and down year, from initial public offerings (200 million shares) to a midyear stock holdings decline. The challenges remain staying ahead of rivals such as Instagram and finding ways to grow a company that was once a darling of investors. Snap is also eager to strike content deals with programmers, which is right in Lynton’s wheelhouse.
51. Stephen Lacy
Chairman and CEO, Meredith
Meredith’s plan to merge with Media General was trumped when Nexstar Broadcast Group swooped in with a $4.8 billion offer to buy the larger company. Lacy and his team pivoted quickly, and in less than a year engineered a $2.8 billion purchase of iconic Time Inc. that is expected to close early next year. Backing from conservative-minded Koch Equity Partners could free capital for additional station buys or an eventual spinoff of its TV unit.
52. Anthony Wood
CEO and Founder, Roku
A leading streaming platform? Done. Now, Wood wants his OTT video specialist poised for long-term, sustainable business growth. Wood just led Roku to a successful IPO while creating a growth story that doesn’t hinge on sales of streaming media players, but rather on a “Platforms” business that is fueled by advertising, subscription revenue sharing and licensing fees.
53. Peter Roth
President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group
Roth’s studio produces more than 90 series airing across broadcast, cable and digital platforms. This season, Warner Bros. has at least three series on each of the five broadcast networks and it’s been the No. 1 supplier of TV series to networks for the past nine years. This season’s breakthrough hit: The Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon on CBS. Coming up: The CW’s premiere of its latest DC Universe series, Black Lightning.
54. David Levy
While Levy successfully provided oversight of entertainment-based cable networks TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, truTV and Turner Classic Movies, it was his efforts in the sports arena that provided Turner with the most game in 2017. Turner networks posted big ratings gains for NBA and MLB postseason coverage, while the company’s multiplatform acquisition of UEFA European soccer games will serve as the basis for Turner’s over-the-top subscription sports service set to launch next year.
55. Linda Yaccarino
Chairman, Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal
Yaccarino in November gathered top media buyers, clients, rival sales executives, digital competitors and researchers to tackle the industry’s problems with measurement and consumer experience. She boldly promises that NBCU will use new currencies and cut the number of commercials it airs and is challenging the industry to make similar moves as a group or face the demise of ad-supported video.
56. Irwin Gotlieb
Under Gotlieb, GroupM, the world’s biggest media buyer, is challenging the digital giants, insisting on better measurement, only paying for ads consumers can see and keeping clients’ ads in safe environments. He’s also fighting trends that favor short-term results over the kind of long-term, value-creating brand building that TV has traditionally done but must find new ways to adequately quantify. When Gotlieb talks, the industry listens.
57. César Conde
Chairman, NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
With a focus on original programming, key sporting events and distribution strategies focusing on younger demos, including a new show for Snapchat, Conde has increased ratings at Telemundo and other video and digital properties key to the growing U.S. Hispanic audience. Also of recent note — the launch of Fluency Plus, a bilingual digital production studio that will target millions of Hispanic millennial/Gen Z consumers with programming dedicated to entertainment, lifestyle, family, food, fashion and other genres.
58. Mark Pedowitz
President, The CW
At the network’s TCA Press Tour session in August, Pedowitz said new military drama Valor is all about “extending the CW brand.” The series hasn’t extended the Nielsens much, but nonetheless shows Pedowitz is constantly on the hunt to bring new viewers under the tent. Rookie Dynasty has also been disappointing, though Wednesday mate Riverdale, which launched last January, started season two with a bang. A four-series superhero crossover in late November similarly made noise for the network.
59. Roger Goodell
Commissioner, National Football League
It’s been a rough year for the NFL. National anthem player protests provoked President Trump to weigh in. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pushed to block a raise in Goodell’s five-year extension. Ratings aren’t what they used to be. But they’re still the envy of everyone else, and savvy Goodell has been aggressive with digital platforms. Said Sports Illustrated, “Twitter and Amazon now have tastes of NFL programming; they will be back for more, along with other digital media giants with unlimited funds.”
60. Channing Dungey
President, ABC Entertainment
If you’re in charge of programming, nothing is more powerful than a hit. Dungey has one in her first year in The Good Doctor. Still, there’s work to do. During an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger noted that ABC has been disappointing the last few years, but that the company was excited about three midseason dramas including a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. Her biggest coming gamble remains American Idol.
61. Dave Lougee
President, CEO, Tegna Media
Six months into his run as president and CEO, Lougee is a force in Washington and in Tegna’s markets. The rare news veteran to get to CEO, Lougee has local programming in his DNA. Tegna is pushing on a national level, too, with shows such as Daily Blast Live and multicast network Quest. Chairman of the NBC affiliates board, Lougee is a deeply respected voice. The FCC’s ownership rules relaxation has Tegna poised to get bigger still.
62. Mark Lazarus
Chairman, NBC Broadcasting and Sports, NBCUniversal
Last year, Lazarus added affiliate relations, network operations and the stations run by NBCU owned stations president Valari Staab, among other things, to his oversight. When research chief Alan Wurtzel shifted to an advisory role, Laz picked up still more divisions. He also oversees NBC’s deals with the NFL, NHL, PGA and Premier League. Next year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins NASCAR coverage. In February, the Winter Olympic Games happen in PyeongChang, Korea, a critical promotional platform for NBC.
63. Lorne Michaels
Creator and Executive Producer, Saturday Night Live
In the Trump era, late-night comedy is more important than ever, and Michaels, as the longtime producer of NBC’s SNL, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers, has not shrunk from the challenge. Alec Baldwin’s Trump portrayal has boosted SNL’s ratings and influence. The show also zinged former SNL cast member and writer Sen. Al Franken (DMinn.), whose inappropriate behavior with women ultimately made him persona non grata in the Senate.
64. Sean McManus
Chairman, CBS Sports
CBS’s NCAA hoops partnership with Turner is a multiplatform smash, generating a record 98 million live video streams earlier this year. The semifinal games on CBS were up 44% from 2016, while the March Madness final grew 30%. McManus is getting CBS Sports properties, including the PGA Tour and SEC football, onto more digital platforms. Hulu’s live TV service has CBS and CBS Sports Network, and CBS All Access recently celebrated a year of NFL streaming.
65. Eric Shanks
President, COO and Executive Producer, Fox Sports
The World Series was a hit, going a glorious seven games and averaging nearly 19 million viewers. Shanks gave fans something new to watch, including more motion cameras than any baseball viewer had experienced before. Fox Sports also did one college football game per week in 4K. Next up is soccer’s FIFA World Cup. Yes, the U.S. won’t be in Russia. But Shanks and company will make the most of the quadrennial affair.
66. Mike Fries
Vice Chairman and CEO, Liberty Global
Nobody plays the scale game better than Liberty Global, now the largest cable operator on the planet in terms of subscribers. Led by Fries, Liberty Global has been built into a pay TV powerhouse in terms of distribution, content and tech. A solid mobile strategy leans heavily on “full” MVNO (multiple virtual network operator) deals that give Liberty Global control. Fries has also been a vocal advocate of integrating OTT services such as Netflix onto the set-top box, keeping his customers engaged on the company’s platform.
67. Fidji Simo
VP of Product, Facebook
Mobile advertising now makes up the bulk of Facebook’s ad revenues. After that triumph, Simo has been heading up product and engineering in key areas including video and news. Video is becoming a core focus for the social media giant, which is eager to grow and expand that business while experimenting with premium sports. Recent handiwork involving Simo is Facebook Creator, a set of tools tailored for content creators that allows Facebook to compete with YouTube.
68. Sundar Pichai
Pichai has had his hands full overseeing the massive Google search engine conglomerate in 2017. While crowing this past May at Google’s annual I/O conference that 2 billion devices now run the Google-created Android software, Pichai also had to manage fallout from the company’s firing this summer of an employee who issued a controversial memo regarding recruitment of female engineers that Pichai felt was contrary to the company’s Code of Conduct.
69. Shonda Rhimes
While still the reigning queen of ABC’s Thursday-night primetime lineup featuring such shows as How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes shook up the television business this past summer by signing an exclusive production deal with Netflix. Rhimes will now take her prolific producing talents to the video streaming arena, which she says offers fewer limitations and more creative flexibility than network television.
70. Rob Manfred
Commissioner, Major League Baseball
Manfred’s the man when it comes to streaming video and sports — MLB’s BAMTech is the go-to technology company in the space, serving as the backbone for HBO’s direct-to-consumer offering HBO Now, as well as The Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming ESPN+, slated for early next year, and a 2019 launch in the entertainment content space. Last year, Disney paid $1 billion for a 33% stake in BAMTech, with a path toward.
71. Peter Dunn
President, CBS Television Stations
Dunn has the trust of his boss, Leslie Moonves, for his astute management of the 29-station group. When a crisis hits a CBS market, such as severe weather, Dunn is all in, and expects as much from staffers. While broadcast has been losing viewers to streaming platforms, CBS All Access streams CBS’ local news. “We’re making sure that for everyone who wants to see our content, no matter where they are, we'll be there for them,” Dunn recently told B&C.
72. Kevin Beggs
Chairman, Lionsgate Television Group
Beggs skyrocketed through the ranks of Lionsgate by making good picks. Now commanding a TV portfolio supplying 90 shows across 40 U.S. TV networks, he’s winning big — 29 Primetime Emmy Award wins and 196 nominations — with hits such as Netflix’s Dear White People, Epix’s Graves, Hulu’s Casual and CMT/ Hulu’s Nashville. Lionsgate stock is at an all-time high. You can bet on Beggs and be bullish.
73. Chris Albrecht
Albrecht has kept Starz firmly in the pop-culture conversation with shows such as Outlander, Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, 50 Cent’s Power, LeBron James’s Survivor's Remorse and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Starz merging with Lionsgate gives Albrecht more room to run, with Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer saying in September that he had “no higher priority” than building up Starz.
74. Oprah Winfrey
Chairwoman, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Oprah Winfrey Network
OWN’s rise as a home for scripted programming has paid off in ratings success with its target audience, with shows such as Queen Sugar and Greenleaf and series from Tyler Perry, including the upcoming comedy and House of Payne spinoff, The Paynes. Winfrey and network management (and Discovery just made its majority ownership buy) continue clicking with top show creators, working with Moonlight writer-producer Alvin McCraney and with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil (Being Mary Jane) on new one-hour drama series.
75. Jeff Zucker
President, CNN Worldwide
Zucker has been fighting a public relations battle with the White House, with promos that suggest calling news “fake” doesn’t mean it’s not fact. CNN continues to parry online thrusts by President Trump, and spotlight issues from the Russia investigation to North Korea to Trump’s tweetstorms. Zucker could have a new boss if AT&T wins its battle with the Trump Administration over control of CNN parent Time Warner, but in the interim, his is the power behind the presidential pushback.
76. Vince McMahon
Chairman, CEO, WWE
With continued emphasis on superhero story lines and top production, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live rank among the most watched shows on weekly cable, while OTT WWE Network has more than 1.5 million subscribers. Production arm WWE Studios recently announced it would add scripted, nonscripted, family, animated TV and digital content to its lineup. And WWE trails only MLB.tv among top sports OTT services (per Parks Associates). McMahon's global entertainment company captivates demos in a space he truly owns.
77. Joseph Ianniello
COO of CBS
After four years as CBS’s chief financial officer — where he helped engineer the broadcaster’s split from Viacom — Ianniello was named COO of CBS in 2013. Since then, working closely with chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, he has helped transform CBS into a retransmission consent powerhouse (retrans revenue should top $2.5 billion by 2020) and has been at the forefront of over-the-top distribution with offerings such as CBS All Access and Showtime’s own OTT service.
78. Adam Silver
Commissioner, National Basketball Association
Silver has largely been untouched by the scandals that have plagued other leagues and he dodged a bullet last year by negotiating a popular collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Players Association. This year, the NBA added virtual reality to its out-of-market League Pass package and Silver deftly avoided the potential controversy when President Trump rescinded his White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors, the 2017 champs, with Silver adding he was proud of the players’ community commitment.
79. Mark Burnett
President, MGM Television and Digital Group
Two years after becoming a “suit” for MGM TV and Digital Group, this godfather of reality TV still claims a top spot among content creators. The division has upped the ante and the output, considering FX’s Fargo and Hulu’s multi-Emmy-winning The Handmaid’s Tale. The maverick producer responsible for The Apprentice (who suffered only minor complaints after Election Day) has no less than five network television shows/specials and two cable shows on the air, including The Voice (NBC), Survivor (CBS) and Shark Tank (ABC). In 2017, Burnett had time slot-winning shows on six nights out of seven.
80. Peter Kern
Interim CEO, Tribune Media
After making a pile of cash as Leo Hindery’s partner, Kern was an on-the-money choice to dress up Tribune Media’s financials and sell the broadcast company to the highest bidder. Mission nearly accomplished as a $3.9 billion deal to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group awaits approval. In preparation, Kern has been cutting costs by eliminating WGN America’s expensive programming. His next move? We’ll have to wait and see.
81. Michael Powell
President and CEO, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association
Powell has helped transform the cable trade group into all things broadband and video — and just in time, given that the FCC is freeing cable broadband providers to experiment with new business models. Powell knows a little bit about open internet principles, having fashioned the net neutrality guidelines as FCC chairman back in 2004, guidelines that will help his industry navigate a regulatory landscape with potentially much less FCC oversight.
82. Kathleen Finch
Chief Programming, Content and Brand Officer, Scripps Networks Interactive
Finch oversees some of U.S. TV’s best-known reality/lifestyle brands, including HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, as well as associated websites, Scripps Lifestyle Studios, an ad sales arm, and international networks in the U.K. and Poland, where Scripps launched HGTV earlier this year. That growth is attributed to what the company calls a “relentless focus on operational execution” that led to record consolidated revenues of $3.4 billion last year.
83. Tim Armstrong
When Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion in May 2015, and then Yahoo for $4.5 billion in June, the plan was to mix AOL’s ad tech, Yahoo’s consumer numbers and Verizon’s data, call it Oath, and make something that could compete with Google and Facebook. Armstrong may do that yet, but for now, the strategy has switched to one less about overextension and more about brand strength. Whatever the plan, Armstrong is a solid, imaginative, far-thinking leader, now deep in the media mix.
84. Marsha Blackburn
Chair, House Communications Subcommittee
Tennessee Republican Blackburn has thrown her hat into the ring for a Senate seat, which could raise her profile and standing even more. Blackburn, who was an adviser to the Trump transition team, chairs the House Communications Subcommittee, which oversees the FCC and communications issues in general. If Congress decides to tackle net neutrality, the already powerful Blackburn will be an essential player in those discussions.
85. Kevin Reilly
President, TBS and TNT, and Chief Creative Officer, Turner Entertainment
Wrapping his third year in charge of programming at TBS and TNT, and with a healthy assist from Sandra Dewey, President, TBS & TNT Productions and Business Affairs and Head of Studio T, Reilly brought brand-building shows such as Search Party and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee to TBS and Animal Kingdom, Good Behavior and Claws to TNT (coming soon: The Alienist). Reilly also delivered Turner into eSports and led the effort (still deemed an experiment) to reduce ad loads in primetime.
86. Andrew Lack
Chairman, NBC News and MSNBC
How well-won is Lack’s reputation for managing talent and controversy? It’s one reason he was asked to head NBC News in 2015 after Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months. And it’s what made his word gold when he dispatched Matt Lauer of the Today show, in the wake of strong evidence that the longtime star anchor had sexually assaulted female colleagues. Lack’s next challenge: replacing Lauer while maintaining Today’s so-far-winning ratings.
87. Gordon Smith
President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters
Smith will be leading his industry through the Rubik’s Cube of channel repacking while TV stations simultaneously begin to plan for the rollout of ATSC 3.0, the next-gen TV standard that will allow for VOD, interactivity and 4K pictures. Meanwhile, broadcasters will be able to buy more stations thanks in part to NAB’s push to get the FCC to eliminate and/or modify ownership limits.
88. John Oliver
Host, Executive Producer, Co-Writer, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Oliver’s show not only wins Emmy Awards — it snagged its second consecutive Outstanding Variety Series statue in 2017 — but it also helps shape policy. Oliver famously called Tom Wheeler a “dingo” in 2014, in a series of jabs that some say nudged the then-FCC chairman to sign off on stricter net neutrality rules. And many believe Oliver’s stance against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger played a role in the demise of that deal. His seriocomic advocacy on issues helps push lots of calls to Congress. His latest target — the Sinclair-Tribune merger — has yet to play out.
89. Mark Richer
The Advanced Television Systems Committee is the engine behind the new ATSC 3.0 TV transmission standard, and Richer drives that train. The collection of standards for ATSC 3.0 should be completed this spring and the FCC has voted to launch the framework for a voluntary transition. Under Richer’s leadership, the committee is delivering a first-ever mobile standard that means broadcasters can be power players in delivering data to connected cars and smartphones, and super-high-resolution video to homes.
90. Rick Rosen
Head of TV, WME Entertainment
WME’s head of TV is the man behind many highly visible TV talents, such as Dick Wolf, Howard Gordon, Conan O’Brien, Max Mutchnick and more. And WME is the agency behind, remarkably, half of TV’s scripted series. Now with IMG in the fold, Rosen also oversees the agency’s sports broadcast and marketing departments. Additionally, WME-IMG has invested in UFC, the Professional Bull Riding Association, and eLeague, the e-sports joint venture (with Turner), for additional packaging opportunities.
91. Steve Harvey
Host, Steve and Family Feud, Celebrity Family Feud, Little Big Shots, Steve Harvey’s Funderdome
Harvey maintains his top priority is his daytime TV talk show, Steve, which this season relocated to Los Angeles. But with so many shows on his docket — plus his drive-time radio talk show — it’s sometimes hard to tell. At 60, Harvey, still at the height of his powers, will even host Fox’s New Year’s Eve fest.
92. Ken Lowe
Chairman, President and CEO, Scripps Networks Interactive
Lowe led Scripps’s women-friendly lifestyle networks — Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel among them — to the altar with Discovery Communications in a $14.6 billion merger (closure pending). He bonded with Discovery CEO David Zaslav in the months leading up to the July agreement, including at Allen & Co.’s gathering in Sun Valley. Earned kudos (and a sizable exit package) for selling SNI at a 34% premium at a time when distribution and ad prospects are challenging.
93. Aryeh Bourkoff
Founder and CEO, LionTree LLC
In a bit of understatement, media merger moneyman Bourkoff told The New York Times that the Justice Department’s suit to halt AT&T-Time Warner “created a heightened level of uncertainty in the deal environment.” Bourkoff’s LionTree is usually in the middle of top deals, or those featuring big players such as Malone and Murdoch. You can count on that being true in 2018.
94. Jay Sures
As UTA has grown (doubling staff to 850 in five years), so has the purview of Sures, who oversees the agency’s television practice, rising to co-president in September. UTA’s growth of late includes an equity stake in investment firm AGM Partners, after the transformative 2014 acquisition of N.S. Bienstock and its many clients in broadcast news and unscripted TV. Top clients include Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper, Norah O'Donnell and Dr. Phil.
95. Frances Berwick
President, Lifestyle Networks, NBCU Cable Entertainment
This key programming lieutenant has been NBCU Cable chairman Bonnie Hammer’s go-to executive when change is called for, be it a tweak or a total makeover. This year’s projects included Oxygen refocusing on crime fare and Sprout’s September conversion to the more synergistic Universal Kids, targeting the huge preschooler-to-11-year-old market with Top Chef Junior and shows from NBCU-owned DreamWorks Animation. Berwick also oversees E!.
96. Steve Lafferty
Managing Partner, CAA
Under the leadership of Lafferty, CAA’s TV Department continued to manage a star-studded list of actors, creators and producers from such hits as Empire, The Walking Dead, Black-ish, Scandal and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The TV department also weathered the departure of TV literature head Ryan Ly following allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.
97. Craig Moffett
Principal and Senior Analyst, MoffettNathanson
These are busy times for Moffett. First, the Trump administration sued to halt the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner, a move that threatens vertical integration. Then the FCC moved to free distributors from rate regulations and eliminate net neutrality. “It would be shocking if [these unpopular changes] are allowed to stand for long,” said Moffett. “This is almost certainly not the end of the story.” And for financials, Moffett’s the storyteller.
98. Courteney Monroe
CEO, National Geographic Global Networks
A brush with Genius lent National Geographic Channel big Emmy cred this September. The bio series about Albert Einstein landed 15 nominations overall, including for top honors such as best actor (Geoffrey Rush). Cracking categories such as that aids the programmer’s expansion into scripted series under Monroe. The Long Road Home, from the Martha Raddatz book about the ambush of a U.S. Army platoon in Baghdad in 2004, followed this fall. Genius will return, with Antonio Banderas portraying Pablo Picasso.
99. Michael Paull
If the future of video is streaming to any and all screens, then few are as well-positioned as BAMTech, the Disney-backed tech services specialist spun out of MLB Advanced Media that has set the bar for online video. After helping Amazon Channels solidify its SVOD curation and aggregation strategy, Paull is now charged with growing and expanding BAMTech’s business, which counts major clients such as WWE, HBO and Hulu. One big key going forward — driving new outside business.
100. David Gandler
Co-Founder and CEO, fubotv
Just when the focus on OTT-delivered skinny TV bundles steered away from sports, fuboTV cut against the grain with a service focused on the games. That strategy is paying off, with fuboTV recently passing the 100,000-subscriber mark amid competition from more deep-pocketed rivals such as YouTube TV, Hulu, Philo, DirecTV Now and Sling TV. With Gandler at the reins, fuboTV has become a significant player, notching key distribution deals with programmers such as Fox, NBCUniversal, CBS and the NFL.
#MeToo Remakes Content World
There is no small irony that Isa Hackett, whose sexual harassment claims led to the resignation of Amazon Studios head Roy Price, is executive producer of the popular Amazon show The Man In the High Castle. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better nickname for the growing collection of once-untouchable men who are now better known for bad behavior than for the content they created.
It was Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in The New York Times, and Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker, in their early October takedowns of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who first gave everyone a glimpse of just how deeply rooted the problem of sexual harassment is in entertainment. Since then, giant dominos have fallen, with activist Tarana Burke’s “MeToo” phrase acting as a final exclamation point to each message. Along with Price (who landed at No. 21 on our Power 100 last year), the scandals have also collected Bill Shine (ex-Fox News co-president, No. 40 last year), on a list that includes TV megastars Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer.
Compiled by Robert Edelstein, with reporting from Paige Albiniak, Jeff Baumgartner, John Eggerton, Mike Farrell, Kent Gibbons, Jon Lafayette, Michael Malone, Mark Robichaux and R. Thomas Umstead.
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