DirecTV's Patricia Ishimoto loves exotic travel—and now, exotic deal-making.
"Since I was kid, I've have wanderlust; maybe it came from being the daughter of a father who worked for Pan Am," says Ishimoto, VP of original entertainment and general manager of The 101 for DirecTV.
These days Ishimoto takes other journeys—with unusual deals for The 101, DirecTV's original-programming channel, which started in 2006 with a bunch of low-key programs mostly focusing on live music events.
"My experience in acquisitions has been in negotiating agreements for all genres of programming, from kids to ultimate fighting," she says. "Working with the studios provided tremendous exposure to different economic models."
Ishimoto recently struck a unique agreement with NBC to share new episodes of Friday Night Lights, the much-heralded series that didn't have enough viewers to make the two-year-old show work financially on that network. So, starting this October, DirecTV will air new episodes of the show, with a second airing to run on NBC.
Ishimoto says bigger changes for the channel started earlier when The 101 moved away from its mostly young viewers.
"Initially we were targeting what we were calling the 'boomer shadow.' But kids are kind of fickle," she said. "After nine to 12 months, we wanted to shift back to our core base, the people who are writing the checks every month—35-plus. Maybe a little bit more male because of the sports programming we offer."
'AN OLD-FASHIONED EXECUTIVE'
"She is kind of like an old-fashioned broadcast executive," says David Hill, chairman/CEO of Fox Sports and Ishimoto's former boss when he was president of DirecTV Entertainment Group. "She uses research, but it is all with the gut. You can't teach that."
Ishimoto previously worked at AT&T and had a wide range of marketing experiences. She also had a stint working in the Peace Corps in Kenya.
"The experience in the Peace Corps was an essential part of learning true grass-roots marketing and negotiation skills," she says. "When you have to negotiate every day for your basic needs, it just becomes second nature." —Wayne Friedman