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Whatever you might think of the Twitter feed of the president-elect, it is those little phrase-sentences at the ends of his tweets that really seem to sum up the list of issues television industry power players dealt with in 2016. There were large-scale acquisitions; so much evolution of over-the-top players that the word “disruption” now appears quaint when applied to that; customer complaints; ugly corporate doings and un-doings; the shifting scales of power between content and distribution; spectrum issues that continue to reshape the balance among platforms. And then there is the true elephant in the room, the one whose room will soon be the Oval Office (when it’s not Midtown Manhattan).
There is simply no way to chronicle the way power is distributed in our industry right this second without applying Donald Trump’s march to the White House like a wide swath across everything. His campaign turned the news media—regarded historically in these pages as the Fifth Estate—into a bystander, which reshuffled the deck of power and the vagaries of truth. His take on billion-dollar media deals remains a vast unknown. He will be our first overtly, insistently digital president. And the regulatory and tax issues under him will swing in a different direction. When the only trusted news source for vast pockets of the country is suddenly Wikileaks, you know some power has shifted.
And yet, this is the TV industry, a remarkably fluid, creative, imaginative enterprise, and its top executives still shape what we watch and how, and what we’re willing to pay for and why.
Once again, we dealt with list-making caveats on our Power 100 list. C-level execs, talent, agents, government officials, tech creators, executive producers…and Oprah. They’re all here. But where do they land? CEOs and controllers of giant companies were going to rate high. Financials mattered, but they weren’t everything. Do you keep someone on when a merger may soon force them out? Yes; this is as close as possible to a snapshot of the present moment. A deal is done when it’s truly done.
You’ll find next to each name and title a number in parentheses, indicating where the power player landed on our list last year; a dash, of course, indicates a new entry. You’ll also find about a dozen women among the 100; shamefully, that is all. Lack of diversity remains a frustrating reality among positions of top TV power, and something must be done about that.
You will scan through these names and disagree with at least some, which is exactly as it should be. Trust that we never make any such considerations lightly. We study this industry day by day, moment by moment, and have for 85 years; this is us exercising our own power.
1. Brian Roberts
Chairman and CEO,
(LAST YEAR’S RANKING: 1)
Comcast's Innovation and Technology Center is set to open next year. At 1,121 feet, the building will become Pennsylvania’s tallest—topping the nearby Comcast Center. That’s a convenient metaphor for Roberts’ continued place atop the industry heap, even in a world of cord-cutting, cable disrupting and distribution models exploding. Those billboard concerns didn’t interrupt the flow much for Comcast, which saw its Q3 revenue rise 14.2% to $21.32 billion in a year where NBC scored with multiplatform Olympics coverage and video and broadband saw significant success.
Roberts seems to believe the idiom should read “go big and go home.” The company’s X1 set-top box—a golden addition during the Rio Games with voice activation, web content and technological/viewing versatility—helped Comcast add customers, with an increasing eye on innovation. There’s also the $3.8B purchase in August of DreamWorks Animation that brought Shrek and other familiar properties in-house. Roberts’ annual one-year contract is up in June, but chances are pretty good that he’ll sign another and keep that coveted corner office on our list.
2. Bob Iger
Chairman and CEO,
Walt Disney Co.
In February, Bob Iger has an important meeting: He’s on the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum organized by Donald Trump. Talking jobs and tax policy (Disney favors lowering the corporate tax rate) seems an apt way to begin a year where Iger is sure to see lots of coin from Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel titles.
Disney’s fiscal year closed Sept. 30 with a festive operating profit of $15.7 billion, which will buy you many rides at the company’s latest park jewel, Shanghai Disney. But the extra weight in the saddle for the Disney thoroughbred remains ESPN, which has lost subscribers and on-air talent in recent years. Still, Iger excels at reading industry tea leaves, and Disney’s $1 billion buy of one-third of mlb.com spinoff BamTech is meant to push ESPN toward subscription streaming. Executive shifts at ABC addressed a two-year ratings slump, and heir apparent/COO Tom Staggs’ departure this year stirred succession concerns. But this is Iger and Disney; “The Force Awakens” is still a fitting daily mantra.
3. Leslie Moonves
President and CEO,
Is there any winner with a bigger smile than Les Moonves? Yes: Donald Trump. But it’s close. Moonves famously cracked wise that Trump “may not be very good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.” The jury will decide the former; we already know the latter was true. Many things are going right for Moonves’ empire. Hulking retrans fees from pay-TV distributors topped $1B this year—and they are rising, as is the company’s cable revenue. CBS’ new NFL deal gives subscribers to the All Access streaming service access to the premier live television entity in America.
While talk is often cheap, it’s anything but when it comes to Moonves. Being touted as the potential savior of Viacom, a scenario since abandoned (at least for now), hardly hurt this undercover boss. Meanwhile, CBS’ TV network continues to shine with primetime series ownership and that NFL deal. It was a good year for a man whose content is on demand and whose opinions about the industry remain very much in demand.
4. Rupert Murdoch
James Murdoch CEO,
21st Century Fox
(6, —, —) ▲
In a year startling for its unpredictability, the ousting of Roger Ailes from his Fox News perch was a stunner. Fortunately, making a seamless transition was a Mr. Rupert Murdoch, who has some experience running news organizations. The fact that Murdoch’s Fox News leadership was a nonstory—James Murdoch graded his work an A-plus—suggests something about the company’s power in riding waves and surfing them successfully. After some bumpy starts last year, Murdoch père and fils put whatever past corporate tugs of war behind them (for now) and kept the trajectory rising.
Fox enjoyed a successful World Series and FX had a breakout year across the board. The company’s international channels business was retooled by the younger Murdochs, and while global streaming remains a priority (along with Hulu co-ownership), the strategy is to work with bundlers instead of a homebuilt service. Political upheaval will keep Fox News Channel a star player under copresidents Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, and while Rupert’s two honeymoon periods are over (at Fox News and with wife Jerry Hall), everyone has settled in nicely.
5. Susan Wojcicki
A popular industry guessing game is speculating how much YouTube is worth. It was valued last year at $70 billion by one analyst; this year, some hold the number approaches $85 billion (with in-video ads a chief source of revenue). Granted, parent Alphabet isn’t throwing open the books, but some financial experts equate Wojcicki’s endlessly watched site with Netflix.
For the nonbelievers, this all seems preposterous. Even Wojcicki talks about how there is no timetable for profitability, saying 2017 will be an investment-mode year for YouTube. Targets include virtual reality, YouTube’s $10 monthly Red service and other assorted attempts to fill the linear TV viewing void. But that’s perhaps still the best measure of YouTube’s massive power. It’s the site where 140 million people in the U.S. and around the globe went to either watch the third presidential debate or videos related to it. A user base in excess of 1 billion, it is the world’s ultimate on-demand tool. There’s a lot to be said for clout that money can’t buy.
6. Jeff Bewkes
CEO, Time Warner
Bewkes would be the first exec to assert the power of good content, but as he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7, that’s just not enough in the current distribution landscape. And he has about 86 billion reasons to believe AT&T deserves to buy Time Warner to create a mobile video powerhouse. Does that make the platform-agnostic, iconoclastic Bewkes still an industry powerhouse himself? If the deal goes through—despite Donald Trump’s campaignera objections—where will Bewkes fit in? This list being a snapshot in time, it is enough to say the man who runs the company controlling HBO and Turner still has enormous say and sway. HBO Now has about 1 million subscribers and plans for wider distribution and more original content. CNN had, in Bewkes’ words, a “killer year” that went beyond coverage the president-elect didn’t like. If most believe content is still king, there’s a reason Time Warner has been so attractive a commodity for years. At Bewkes’ direction, an ugly duckling saddled with the initials “AOL” became a streamlined swan.
7. John Malone
Chairman, Liberty Media,
Liberty Global and Liberty Interactive
Sure, on the surface, the famed Cable Cowboy’s determined $8 billion buy of coveted motorsports series Formula One appears to be a head-scratcher. Below the surface, of course, it has all the earmarks of another savvy move by the relentless Malone: an extremely popular global live sport, with a high-class champagne-and-caviar cachet that NASCAR can’t touch, and untapped potential that only a media giant can leverage and savor. Consider us intrigued.
Cable companies, networks, distribution outlets—Malone has his fingers in them all, and all over the world. His Charter Communications—the third-largest U.S. cable company—purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in May for $67 billion; the deal reworked the pay-TV and high-speed internet map and serves as a nice symbol of the interdependence between cable and wireless companies. With stakes in Lionsgate, Discovery Communications and Liberty Global, his empire befits the largest private landowner in the U.S. (at 2.2 million acres). Starz’ $4.4 billion sale to Lionsgate, which closed this month, further satisfies Malone’s thirst for great global content.
8. Reed Hastings
Cofounder and CEO, Netflix
Hastings has become a frequent conversation topic in the corridors of TV power. Will Disney try to buy the streaming giant, making him a possible successor to Bob Iger? And can he explain why his algorithm keeps insisting that we watch True Memoirs of an International Assassin with Kevin James?
Many mysteries remain about Hastings’ creation, but so it tends to be when you run a company that symbolizes the smashing value of disruption. Netflix’s Q3 sales passed $2 billion, and in Q4, the company expects to beat expectations in new net memberships. Netflix rivals HBO when it comes to quality content (if not Emmys quite yet) and the promise—which confounds and frightens rivals—is 1,000-plus hours of original programming in 2017, up from 600 hours this year. The goal is for 50% of content to be exclusive originals, on the heels of this year’s Stranger Things, The Crown and a Gilmore Girls continuation. Distribution continues to rival content as top advantages, and Hastings can count both his blessings.
9. Randall Stephenson
Chairman and CEO, AT&T
The industry's power picture could be quite different a year from now for the man who believes buying Time Warner is a capital idea (or is that Capitol?). Much is at play for Stephenson, a businessman who looks forward to the new administration but who needs to play things carefully to reverse Trump’s icy take on AT&T’s megamerger plans. Stephenson began that projected 18-month quest on Dec. 7 when he came to Washington to emphasize the business-positive/competitive advantages of taking on dominating cable companies by wedding great Time Warner content to AT&T’s mobile video technologies.
It’s already been a big year for AT&T, which introduced the comprehensive streaming service DirecTV Now and its premier content from the likes of HBO and NBCU, and a price meant to undercut pay-TV rivals (although making profit with it will be an operative question). It’s more ammo for Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey to bundle additional customers relying on AT&T’s Internet of Things plans. “Plans” is what Stephenson now has, and they’re bigger than anybody else’s.
10. Richard Plepler
Chairman and CEO, HBO
The continued success of Game of Thrones. So many trips to the Emmys podium every year they practically wear out the carpet. A $2 billion operating income and the cachet of being one of American culture’s top tastemakers. All good reasons, but really, why do we hold the man with the tan in such high esteem? Because in an era where we’re all gonna need a very good, smart laugh, he’s our new King of Comedy, bringing us both John Oliver and, yes, Jon Stewart.
Plepler, a player at the highest-stakes table in the room who often seems to get the top cards, deals constantly with great expectations. HBO Now, the company’s $14.99 streaming bet to keep the cord-cutters happy (and watching), isn’t growing as quickly as expected, and competition with Netflix continues— to the glee of viewers. But that’s the key—content such as new hit Westworld keeps driving viewership across all platforms. And that’s “pret-tay, pret-tay good.” Oh, wait a minute….
11. Tom Rutledge
(15) ▲ President and CEO,
Rutledge closed the biggest deal of 2016 (AT&T-Time Warner has a ways to go) in May with Charter’s $80 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable. Now the hard part begins— integrating 17 million customers across three product brands without deadening recent momentum. So far, Charter has taken a measured approach, rolling out its Spectrum brand in Manhattan this month, and it has made overtures of moving into wireless and ultra-high-speed data.
12. Patrick Drahi
(18) ▲ Founder, Altice Group
One year ago, the FCC approved Altice’s first U.S. cable foray, the purchase of Suddenlink, and soon after its acquisition of family-run Cablevision. Those two milestones firmly established the Netherlands-based company as a U.S. player to be reckoned with. The company Drahi launched now boasts north of 46 million subs worldwide for its fixed and mobile broadband services, and revenue of $24 billion.
13. Sumner Redstone
(17) ▲ Chairman, Viacom and CBS;
Vice Chair, Viacom
Controlling the fates of two major media conglomerates, the once-divided/ now-reunited billionaire and daughter decided Dec. 12 that it wasn’t “the right time” to reunite CBS and Viacom. That verdict capped a hectic 2016, when they finally removed former ally/CEO Philippe Dauman after years of damaging stewardship. The markets may not have liked the CBS-Viacom pullout, but the Redstones trust CEO Bob Bakish to wring the best results out of the still-asset-rich company until other scenarios materialize.
14. David Zaslav
(11) ▼ President and CEO,
Forget Shark Week: Discovery has its killer shark all year round. Zaslav has turned OWN into a winner and, with an assist from Rich Ross, who oversees Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science, has invested in content. A recent study noted that Discovery Channel, along with History and FX, are the most important nets among potential cord-cutters. Zaslav has also placed a $100 million bet on digital outfit Group Nine Media, and he is banking big on overseas sports behemoth Eurosport.
15. Kevin Tsujihara
(19) ▲ Chairman and CEO,
Warner Bros. Entertainment
As head of one of the most successful movie and TV production houses in the business—in addition to recent box office hits, it produces 70 TV series including The Big Bang Theory and Westworld—Tsujihara could be a key player in AT&T’s plans to purchase WB parent Time Warner. Tsujihara has advocated for shorter theatrical windows, which could benefit a combined AT&T-Time Warner’s efforts to differentiate itself through exclusive programming.
16. Ted Sarandos
(20) ▲ Chief Content Officer, Netflix
Sarandos in 2016 doubled down on his push to place Netflix among the preeminent distributors of premium original content by launching binge-viewing hits including Stranger Things and securing content production deals with Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Sylvester Stallone. Sarandos has said Netflix will spend $6 billion on programming in 2017 to create more than 1,000 hours of original content for its nearly 87 million worldwide subscribers.
17. Ben Sherwood
(16) ▼ Co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President,
Disney/ABC Television Group
Sherwood’s domain includes the ABC broadcast network, ABC Studios, the owned TV stations and Disney Channels Worldwide. Mentioned as a potential successor to Disney chief Bob Iger, Sherwood knows a ratings turnaround at ABC is key. The network has advanced TV’s diversity push with its Shondaland shows and comedies including Black-ish. The Watch ABC app has been in the OTT vanguard, forging deals for stations to go live via PlayStation Vue and other distributors.
18. Lowell McAdam
(22) ▲Chairman and CEO,
In his five-plus years as CEO of Verizon, McAdam has built the company into a TV powerhouse, increasing its Fios video subscriber base to 4.7 million and overseeing the acquisitions of digital video vets AOL and Yahoo. McAdam led the way on making skinny bundles a reality for multichannel video programming distributors and leveraged the company’s telecom DNA to launch go90, a mobile-first video service for both live and VOD content.
19. Randy Falco
(21) ▲President and CEO,
While Telemundo is making the U.S. Hispanic ratings derby more competitive lately, Falco has steered Univision toward younger, millennial viewers through the creation of original multiplatform content. Falco in 2016 oversaw Univision’s acquisition of millennial- targeted media company Fusion through the purchase of Disney’s stake in the service. It also acquired satirical media group The Onion and the legally humbled Gawker Media. Still in the wings is a potential Univision public offering in 2017.
20. Tim Cook
(12) ▼ CEO, Apple
Power sometimes lies in what a key player could do, not what they actually have done. Apple has struggled to bring a potentially game-changing skinny bundle offering to the masses as broadcasters have continued to balk at its demands, but the consumer electronics giant still casts a long shadow. Its iOS is a must-secure platform for any OTT service. And its Apple TV box and tvOS, with guidance from Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of internet software and services, make a popular streaming home.
21. Roy Price
(29) ▲ Head of Amazon Studios
Amazon still doesn’t break out how many millions sign up for Prime subscriptions (thereby getting access to original video). Even so, it’s clear that Amazon Studios’ Price, along with VP of worldwide television acquisition Brad Beale, is making a mark with originals including Transparent and The Man in The High Castle. One recent addition, The Grand Tour, featuring the former hosts of blockbuster Top Gear, will help set the stage for global expansion.
22. Steve Burke
(24) ▲ Executive VP, Comcast,
and CEO, NBCUniversal
The $250 million in profit Comcast made during the Rio Olympics tells you all you need to know about how NBCUniversal is hitting on all cylinders under Burke. He has championed his Symphony approach to getting NBCU’s widespread businesses to work together to support big projects. And he exemplifies the concept by synergizing to great effect.
23. Mike Hopkins
(32) ▲CEO, Hulu
Time Warner’s nearly $600 million investment for 10% of Hulu was a clear indication of the streaming service’s elevated place in Television Land. Under Hopkins, Hulu is increasingly a big-bucks bidder for top off-network series, grabbing Homeland, Fargo and Seinfeld. Its originals are winning acclaim too, starting with awards-bait series Casual and Difficult People. Hopkins’ big project for 2017, along with deputies Craig Erwich, senior VP, head of content, and Tim Connolly, senior VP, head of distribution and partnerships, is a closely watched skinny-bundle rollout.
24. Neil Smit
(28) ▲President and CEO,
Comcast Cable, and Executive VP,
Focused on driving innovation and the customer experience, the former Navy SEAL has put the country’s largest MSO on course for what could be the first full year of positive video customer growth in a decade. Smit has led Comcast’s cable unit to six consecutive years of fewer video subscriber losses, consistently improving the video and high-speed data businesses. Cable unit revenue has risen 33% since Smit joined in January 2010 and cash flow has improved by 35%.
25. Charlie Ergen
Chairman, Dish Network and EchoStar
Despite steadily losing customers, Dish Network remains a force with more than 13 million subscribers. With the contentious Ergen at the helm, the No. 4 distributor isn’t always easy to deal with—just ask Tribune Media and the NFL Network, which were blacked out this year. Ergen made Dish one of the first multichannel video programming distributors to go over-the-top with Sling TV. One thing for sure, Ergen always has something up his sleeve.
26. Pat Esser
(26) (—) President, Cox Communications
As one of the few remaining independent cable operators, Cox will always have a target on its back in the era of consolidation, but Esser has managed to make progress in several areas. Fiercely independent, Cox has vowed to remain so and was the first U.S. licensee of Comcast’s X1 platform. X1 is now available across Cox’s 21 markets, and the operator expects to end 2016 with nearly 600,000 customers on the platform.
27. Peter Liguori
(35) ▲ CEO,
Liguori has continued refining Tribune since 2013, when the company emerged from bankruptcy and shed its print assets. Tribune last June endured a 12-week retransmission consent battle with Dish Network. It was a key example of a broadcaster using its station-group clout to secure carriage for less-watched cable channels. Along with WGN America, cable home to the acclaimed Underground, Tribune has multicast networks, 42 broadcast stations and a robust digital portfolio.
28. John Skipper
(25) ▼ President, ESPN/Disney Media Networks
ESPN has shed more than 9 million subscribers in the past three years to dip below 90 million for the first time in a decade. Nevertheless, the implacable Skipper and key lieutenants, including sales chief Ed Erhardt, have kept the network at the center of the sports conversation. In 2017, things will get interesting when the network finally rolls out a stand-alone OTT service and fine-tunes the effects of skinny bundle availability on DirecTV, Hulu and Sling.
29. John Martin
(37) ▲ Chairman & CEO,
With AT&T’s potential purchase of Time Warner in the background, Martin continued the strategy outlined in his Turner 2020 initiative of boosting viewership while controlling costs for Turner’s portfolio of channels, as well as overseeing the group’s evolution as a multiplatform media and technology leader. Turner-owned CNN enjoyed a ratings renaissance in 2016 with its presidential election coverage, and will look to serve as the preeminent worldwide media news outlet covering President Trump.
30. Chris Ripley
(—) incoming CEO,
Sinclair Broadcast Group
The company’s CFO is moving to the top of the C-suite Jan. 1, when Ripley assumes oversight of Sinclair’s 173 TV stations, along with its burgeoning portfolio of websites and diginets for younger crowds. Ripley is filling the presidential seat long held by David Smith, who will dedicate his time to ATSC 3.0. Keeping count of Sinclair’s clout will be the job of its new CFO, Lucy Rutishauser, who has been cutting her teeth as senior VP of corporate finance.
31. Dexter Goei
(—) CEO Altice USA
Altice USA, the domestic cable arm of European telecom giant Altice N.V., is the newest kid on the cable block. Although seen as a consolidator after buying Cablevision Systems and Suddenlink, Goei has said it could be a while before it sidles up to the M&A bench again. The CEO (and former investment banker) has focused on integration and beefing up the company’s network—it recently increased data speeds at its Optimum unit to 300 Mbps—and offering lowcost internet to needy families.
32. Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg
(—) Presidents of programming and production,
Sony Pictures Television
After being elevated to the top spot in June following the departure of longtime chairman Steve Mosko, SPT’s Erlicht and Van Amburg continued to build on the Hollywood studio’s vast lineup of broadcast, cable and digital shows. Under the pair’s nameplate, the company launched several new series this year including Netflix’s The Crown and The Get Down, as well as the Kevin James comedy Kevin Can Wait.
33. Perry Sook
(62) ▲ President and CEO,
Nexstar Broadcasting Group
The architect of the Nexstar- Media General merger, Sook is on the cusp of running the second-largest broadcast group in the country. While awaiting the FCC’s OK, Sook has been laying the groundwork for the new company, Nexstar Media, and in the tradition of Nexstar Broadcasting, Sook says the new group will be run based on two functions: creating content and helping businesses sell stuff. It’s worked for him so far.
34. Roger Goodell
(40) ▲ Commissioner, NFL
After a spectacular 2015, ratings erosion this fall has plagued the league, which has also seen stiff competition for young male viewers from the likes of UFC and eSports. But Goodell still presides over the richest sport in a sports-crazed country and ergo wields considerable clout. On his watch, the NFL has expanded internationally, added Thursdaynight games and partnered with Twitter on live streaming. And after 50 years, the Super Bowl remains the ultimate TV maypole.
35. Bonnie Hammer
(42) ▲ Chairman,
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment
Hammer isn’t so much a survivor as a thriver, having been with Universal since 1989 and continuing to climb the ranks through several mergers, including Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. She gained oversight of her first cable network, the Sci Fi Channel, in 2001, and since then has only added to her portfolio. Today, she oversees USA, which airs the Emmy-winning Mr. Robot, as well as Syfy, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, Esquire, Sprout, Chiller, Cloo and Universal HD, along with Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios.
36. David Nevins
(44) ▲ President, Showtime
Since taking over the CEO title from Matt Blank last January (Blank remains chairman), Nevins has steered Showtime into the future of television content development and distribution, from overseeing the launch of the company’s over-the-top digital service to developing new and successful shows including Billions. With a stable of popular titles led by Homeland, The Affair and Ray Donovan—and with the long-awaited reboot of the David Lynch-Mark Frost cult drama series Twin Peaks in the wings—Nevins has positioned the network for a strong future.
37. David Poltrack
(34) ▼ Chief Research Officer,
Charged with the network’s audience measurement and overall research efforts, Poltrack is among the most prominent voices in the broadcast industry when it comes to the state of advertising. In 2016, the longtime industry researcher helped oversee some unique explorative broadcast research efforts, including a media analytics program with New York University and a neuroscience endeavor with Nielsen to look at the effectiveness of ads.
38. Jack Dorsey
(38) CEO, Twitter
While still very much a cultural force, Twitter suffered a few setbacks this year that had some questioning the social network’s long-term outlook. Ultimately, what makes Twitter powerful is its role in the news cycle and pop culture, as it has been all year, thanks to a rather prominent Tweeter-elect, police shootings, must-share sports moments and genre shows such as Westworld.
39. Steve Hasker
(41) ▲Global President
and COO, Nielsen
The video-watching world is migrating to more screens in and out of the home, and Nielsen is evolving along with this trend. Under Hasker, Nielsen, which is facing increased pressure from rivals such as comScore, has made significant progress with Total Audience Measurement, a new platform that ties together the audience that is watching regular TV as well as via new and increasingly popular digital outlets. A new portable people meter measures out-of-home viewing, which helps widen the samples.
40. Jack Abernethy
(52) ▲ CEO,
Fox Television Stations
Bill Shine, (—) Fox News copresident
The copresidents of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network are chief architects of a post-Roger Ailes world at the company, and they received longterm deals and a Rupert Murdoch nod in September. The pair— with Shine running programming and editorial and Abernethy overseeing finance, advertising and distribution, as well as owned stations—have inherited a breadth of challenges facing cable news. But their operative task is keeping a successful ship going strong.
41. John Landgraf
47) ▲CEO, FX Networks
Want to know what’s really going on in television? Stick a mic in front of John Landgraf. Dubbed the “Mayor of TV” by critics, his exec sessions at the TCA press tours illuminate peak TV, diversity and subscription video-on-demand players’ bottomless budgets. Not that FX is suffering at the hands of Netflix—it snagged 18 Emmys this past fall. And Landgraf's taste yielded The People v. O.J. Simpson, Atlanta and big drama favorites The Americans and Fargo.
42. Josh Sapan
(48) ▲ President and CEO,
A select few are responsible for this undoubtedly golden era of television, and Sapan, with oversight of AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, WeTV and BBC America, makes anyone’s list. AMC’s transformation from lightly viewed movie channel to home of TV’s boldest dramas has been well-documented, and Sapan, along with deputies Charlie Collier and Joel Stillerman, hustles to further that legacy. Sapan has also been placing savvy bets on the future, from a stake in Funny or Die to a $65 million investment in Bob Johnson’s SVOD channels.
43. Peter Rice
(46) ▲ Chairman and CEO,
Fox Networks Group
With all of Fox Broadcasting Co., FX Networks, Fox Sports Media and other properties under his supervision, Rice has overseen some significant changes at Fox Networks Group. National Geographic unveiled its most extensive rebrand with hybrid scripted-unscripted series Mars from Ron Howard. Meanwhile, FX will look to continue its hot streak with Marvel series Legion—from Fargo’s Noah Hawley and Bryan Singer.
44. Robert Greenblatt
(57) ▲ Chairman, NBC Entertainment
In a six-year run, Greenblatt and his two top lieutenants—entertainment president Jennifer Salke and alternative/ reality president Paul Telegdy—have overseen a renaissance that continues with This Is Us, fall’s breakout broadcast show. As a Broadway booster, Greenblatt has championed annual live versions of Hairspray and three predecessors. This will be the network’s third straight calendar-year win among 18-49-year-old viewers. And the fortified Universal Television studio now has an alternative wing prepping the upcoming World of Dance and Funded to go with company-owned scripted hits like Superstore and The Good Place.
45. Nancy Dubuc
(—) President and CEO,
A&E’s $50-million remake of Roots gave Dubuc much to praise about the international production from A+E Studios, along with pride in Lifetime’s Peabody Award-winning UnReal and anticipation around the upcoming Six and Knightfall on History from the inhouse producer. Live PD added a new element to reality fare and buzz for A&E as the Viceland experiment with Vice Media proceeds.
46. Ken Lowe
(57) ▲ Chairman,
President and CEO,
Scripps Networks Interactive
With a stable including HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country, Lowe continued bullishly pushing his channels over-thetop. The group is dropping its SVOD deal with Netflix as it wasn’t getting enough money out of it. But things are looking up for Food Network now that Lowe and Tribune signed off on a multiyear deal that extends the companies’ partnership in the channel, fostering its long-term growth.
47. Jon Feltheimer
(56) ▲ CEO, Lionsgate Entertainment
Having earned a new employment contract extending him until 2023, Feltheimer’s year was capped by closing Lionsgate’s biggest-ever deal, the $4.4-billion buy of Starz. The purchase makes Lionsgate a “global content powerhouse” in TV and movie output and distribution, as the CEO was able to declare after the long-awaited marriage was announced in June. The home of both Hunger Games and Orange Is the New Black continues to diversify and build on its successes in TV.
48. Dana Walden and Gary Newman,
(—) Chairman, CEOs,
Fox Television Group
Walden and Newman, who will receive the prestigious 2017 Tartikoff Legacy Award at NAPTE in January, continue to oversee a vast and deep roster of media and content creation companies, including the Fox broadcasting company, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios. The duo also continues to strike ratings gold with its top-rated Empire and this year’s surprise freshman drama hit, This Is Us.
49. Peter Roth
(50) ▲President/Chief Content Officer,
No one works harder in TV than the highly personable Roth, known for his tendency to read scripts, watch dailies and show up on set. Warner Bros. Television Group currently produces more than 30 primetime series, with shows—including hits Westworld and Game of Thrones and The CW’s several series based on DC Comics— on all five broadcast networks as well as HBO, TNT, Showtime and Netflix.
50. David Levy
Turner Broadcasting System
He has seven cable networks under his oversight—TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, truTV and Turner Classic Movies— and sports continues to play a major role in Turner’s game plan under Levy. Turner has long-term agreements with the NBA, MLB and NCAA; TBS aired the NCAA men’s basketball championship gtame for the first time in April. Levy has also orchestrated a makeover of TNT and TBS programming and a reduction in ad load at truTV.
51. Stephen Lacy
(27) ▼ Chairman and CEO,
Despite missing out on a merger with Media General, Meredith Corp. under Lacy hasn’t missed a beat. The slow political spending didn’t affect Meredith, with the company reporting a record fiscal first quarter, up more than 20% at $153 million in revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30. The company has also expanded local news at six stations and has ventured into over-the-top with Meredithowned stations rolling out news on Haystack TV.
52. Channing Dungey
Dungey got the top network role in a February shakeup that saw Paul Lee ousted and the broadcast network separated from ABC Studios (led by Patrick Moran) for the first time since 2009. As the first African-American executive steering a broadcast network, Dungey has drawn on her drama background to guide Designated Survivor to a successful launch. An out-of-the-box comedy brand repped by Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat gives ABC a creative edge even if, in the overall ratings, it has plenty of room for improvement.
53. Dave Lougee
When he takes over as Tegna president and CEO from Gracia Martore in mid-2017, Lougee will be heading the most broadcast-centric version of Tegna yet. After parting ways with its Gannett publishing arm, and with its Cars.com spinoff looming in 2017, Tegna’s focus will be on its 46 TV stations and their digital offerings—the narrowest it’s been since the group doubled its size with the acqusition of Belo in 2013.
54. Anthony Wood
(63) ▲ CEO and Founder, Roku
More than 10.6 million active accounts can’t be wrong. The future of TV will be streamed, as Anthony Wood, head of the Roku realm, is fond of saying. Despite heated competition from much bigger players including Apple, Google and Amazon, sales of Roku’s array of streaming players and sticks continues to lead the pack in recent sales. Rumors of a TV made by Apple persisted for years, but Roku beat everyone to the punch with integrated TV deals with the likes of Hisense, TCL, Sharp, Haier, Insignia (Best Buy) and Hitachi.
55. Mark Lazarus
(66) ▲ Chairman,
NBC Sports Group
“Laz,” as he is widely known, gained more mojo in September when he added some of the responsibilities of the departing Ted Harbert. NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, still run by Valari Staab, now report to him. Sports remains the Lazarus cornerstone, and the Rio Olympics featured 7,000 hours of coverage across platforms. Streaming gains and healthy ad rates offset broadcast ratings declines (credit Alan Wurtzel, president, research and media development NBCUniversal, for some of that), giving the Olympics a handsome profit. Sunday Night Football, a Lazarus creation, remains broadcast TV's top-rated show.
56. Shonda Rhimes
(31) ▼ CEO, ShondaLand
With her lineup of Thursday-night powerhouse series—How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy—still in demand by viewers, Rhimes remains one of the most successful and prolific producers in the industry. A fourth scripted series, The Catch, launched this past March and has already been renewed for a second season.
57. Lorne Michaels
(58) ▲ Creator and executive producer,
Saturday Night Live
Though Michaels still has his hand as a producer in late night—The Tonight Show and Late Night—and primetime comedies—Documentary Now! and Portlandia—his work on the 42nd season of Saturday Night Live has taken center stage in the political conversation, for better or worse. SNL often finds itself poking 2016 host/President-elect Donald Trump and getting poked back on Twitter. Fortunately for Michaels, he already nabbed a Presidential Medal of Freedom in November.
58. Sean McManus
(59) ▲ Chairman,
The present looks bright for CBS Sports, and thanks to its chief, so does the future. CBS Sports’ and Turner’s NCAA March Madness pact is good through 2032, and CBS has the PGA Tour zipped up through 2021. Super Bowl 50’s rating wasn’t the highest ever, but at just shy of 112 million viewers, it was close. With an eye on that future, CBS All Access started streaming NFL games Dec. 4, and CBS Sports Network aired esports Dec. 12.
59. Eric Shanks
(72) ▲ President,
COO and Executive Producer,
Who could make baseball cool again? The Cubs, for one, and Fox Sports too, with World Series ratings higher than they’ve been in a dozen years. Shanks then shifted to UFC, which celebrated its New York debut at Madison Square Garden—and on Fox if you couldn’t score a ticket. Next is Super Bowl LI, the World Cup in 2018 and figuring out how to make VR mainstream. A five-year deal with NextVR will help on the latter front.
60. Doug Herzog
(54) ▼ President,
Viacom Music and Entertainment Group
Herzog is a rock amid the turmoil at Viacom. Last year’s restructuring saw him given oversight of Comedy Central, MTV, MTV 2, VH1, Spike and Logo, with then-CEO Philippe Dauman citing his “proven ability to move seamlessly between the business and creative worlds.” Big swings include rescuing America’s Next Top Model and Hip-Hop Squares at VH1. The guy who launched South Park 19 years ago can still work miracles.
61. Mark Pedowitz
(60) ▼ President, The CW
It’s been a challenging fall for The CW’s rookies, Supergirl notwithstanding. Yet Pedowitz’s innovative deal with Netflix, which puts shows on the streaming giant eight days after a season finale, could help series that don’t quite rate. Always retaining a key chip until midseason, CW debuts Riverdale, from Greg Berlanti, on Jan. 26. Pedowitz is a seasoned programming exec, innovative dealmaker and genuine lover of the medium—and a suit the creative community genuinely likes.
62. Oprah Winfrey
(51) ▼ Chairwoman,
CEO and Chief Creative Officer,
Oprah Winfrey Network
OWN’s standing as a textbook example of a network finding its voice after an uneasy start went up a few more notches with some high-quality series: Greenleaf (Winfrey has a recurring role) and Queen Sugar, which led OWN to own Wednesday nights on cable among African-American women. Underscoring Winfrey’s position, she’ll help First Lady Michelle Obama say goodbye to the White House in a Dec. 19 CBS special that will air Dec. 21 on OWN.
63. Peter Dunn
(64) ▲ President,
CBS Television Stations
Though over-the-top continues to cut into viewing trends, CBS’ television stations unit, led by Dunn, has held steady and even seen an uptick in some areas. Local media sales in Q3 rose 9%, due in part to higher retransmission revenue and political ad sales. He has overseen over-the-air efforts of the group’s stations while widening their reach via OTT, thanks to the network’s CBS All Access service.
64. Randy Freer
(65) ▲ President and COO,
Fox Networks Group
Freer is among a group of TV execs who are critical of traditional ad loads and focusing on solutions to keep the monetization train of linear TV moving. And, under Freer, Fox is also figuring out new ways to deliver more effective ads to non-linear audiences following its recent acquisition of true[X], the company behind a format that lets viewers choose between a standard ad load and a more interactive, engaging one up front.
65. Rob Manfred
(—) Commissioner, MLB
Coming off a record World Series—the Cubs-Indians matchup produced the mostwatched seven-game Fall Classic since 2001—Manfred seems well-acclimated to the top job he assumed in 2015. With MLB Network, one of the most respected league-run channels on the dial, and compelling streaming and online services fueled by BamTech, the brainchild of MLB president of business and media Bob Bowman, MLB is scoring big across audiences.
66. Irwin Gotlieb
(71) ▲ Chairman GroupM
Gotlieb, one of the industry’s shrewdest execs, handles GroupM’s billions of dollars in media spend. This year, Gotlieb has reorganized the company, creating one organization dealing with media investment and a second heading up platform services. It also unveiled [m] Platform to cull media planning intelligence from myriad data sources. GroupM’s new president of investment Lyle Schwartz will lead the charge toward using Total Audience Measurement in the next upfront.
67. César Conde
NBCUniversal International Group and
NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
Telemundo continues to develop and invest in new products and platforms tailored to the everexpanding Hispanic audience. Led by Conde, with a key assist from Luis Silberwasser, president, Telemundo Network, those efforts helped vault Telemundo to record-breaking ratings this year, within closer distance of Univision. Complementing its successful streaming, courtesy of apps including Telemundo Now, the company launched its first 360-degree VR experience that lets viewers see a daring tunnel escape from a high-security prison.
68. Mike Fries
(74) ▲ Vice Chairman,
President and CEO,
Liberty Global, the world’s largest cable operator in terms of subscribers, has rapidly become a standard-bearer for what makes up the “new” cable operator. It continues to broaden its footprint as it rapidly moves ahead with next-gen video platforms that embrace Netflix and other OTT fare alongside its legacy video services. Under Fries, Liberty has also added innovative deals that stitch all-important mobile connectivity into the mix.
69. Mark Burnett
(67) ▼ President,
MGM Television and Digital Group
Ties with Donald Trump on The Apprentice, whose celebrity spinoff just returned to NBC, cast the B&C Hall of Famer in a controversial light, but Burnett remains a reality rock known for The Voice, Survivor and Shark Tank. In December, he and wife Roma Downey will expand on their work in scripted religious fare with the debut of 24/7 multicast network Light TV. The faith-and-family-focused programming will air on Fox-owned stations and Fox affiliate digital channels.
70. Linda Yaccarino
Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships,
Yaccarino oversees ad sales for all of NBCUniversal’s broadcast, cable and online assets, giving her the biggest portfolio in the industry. She’s a leader in bringing data and technology to the advertising business and has forged partnerships with companies including AOL and Vox to increase NBCU’s digital reach. In 2016, she combined NBCU’s multiple upfronts into a single presentation, walking away with big gains in pricing and volume.
71. Adam Silver
(79) ▲ Commissioner,
National Basketball Association
A year after securing a record $24 billion, nine-year media rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports, Silver held his own in his first collective bargaining negotiations with the NBA Players Association. Reports say Silver and the union have struck a deal with the same players’ cut of TV money (though more coin, because of bigger contracts), increases in salaries and an earlier start to next season to reduce the number of games on consecutive nights for players.
72. Michael Powell
(70) ▼ President,
NCTA: The Internet & Television Association
Michael Powell continues to remake the cable/ISP trade group, changing the name and scrapping its annual trade show. The former Republican FCC chairman will now have a new GOP chairman, and likely a more friendly ear to bend, as he advocates for blowing up the regulatory silos into which various services have been assigned. Powell represents the nation’s largest internet and television companies in an increasingly broadband-centric world.
73. Megyn Kelly
Fox News Channel
The year is not over yet, so more could make the packed list of Kelly’s 2016 achievements. But here’s the overview: She proved a sharp Republican primary debate moderator; helped engineer the ouster of Fox News chief Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and abuse; and released a bestselling memoir, Settle for More. After breaking with Fox colleagues and questioning President-elect Donald Trump, Kelly is the biggest free agent in the news biz. That’s power.
74. Fidji Simo
(—) Director of Product, Facebook
Since 2014, Simo has been leading video, news and ad endeavors in the News Feed portion of Facebook— which has seen its share of news. But 2016 saw her also oversee the launch of game-changer Facebook Live, which anyone can use and which has captured everything from the aftermath of a police shooting to an NCAA basketball game. It’s Simo’s responsibility to see that this nascent feature stays revolutionary, without getting out of hand.
75. Chris Albrecht
(61) ▼ CEO, Starz
Following the announcement of Starz’ $4.4 billion acquisition by Lionsgate, Albrecht kept the premium programmer humming. The network has continued its push into original programming with big names, and it has a thriving OTT business. On the company’s third-quarter earnings call in October, Albrecht said Starz was nearing 1 million OTT subs, the same neighborhood as HBO and Showtime, in just the first six months of the app’s existence.
76. Emilio Azcárraga Jean
(77) ▲ Chairman, President and CEO,
According to Pew Research, the U.S. Hispanic population is skyrocketing, making it a major source of eyeballs and ad dollars for media outlets that can tap into the market. Emilio Azcárraga Jean has done just that. The Mexican media company he founded, Grupo Televisa, is one of the largest, if not the largest, programmers in the Spanish-speaking media marketplace. The company’s value—and his—will only grow with time.
77. Robert Kirkman
(78) ▲ Creator,
Executive Producer and Writer,
The Walking Dead
The zombie apocalypse raged on as The Walking Dead opened its seventh season to the baseball bat beat-down of two fan-favorite characters and strong ratings—17 million watched the Oct. 23 premiere. While that bloody opener turned off some fans (viewership fell to 10.4 million for one episode), as its Dec. 11 midseason finale neared, that audience was slowly creeping back. Though Kirkman has drawn criticism for killing off beloved characters, TWD remains the highest-rated scripted show on television.
78. Kathleen Finch
(81) ▲ Chief Programming,
Content and Brand Officer,
Scripps Networks Interactive
In a digital marketplace of seemingly endless choices, branding, rather than content, may be the new king, placing Finch on a particularly valued throne. She oversees some of U.S. TV’s bestknown reality/lifestyle brands, including HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, and they are on the move. SNI has distribution in 29 languages to more than 150 million subs in over 175 countries as international partners create local formats around SNI staples.
79. Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein
(82) ▲ Copresidents,
Marcus and Bernstein remain two of TV’s most innovative executives, creating new business models and ways to get TV shows to consumers, even in a challenging distribution environment. Marcus and Bernstein forged the 90/10 programming model that put several Tyler Perry sitcoms simultaneously on TBS and TV stations. Debmar-Mercury, owned by Lionsgate, distributes dominant game show Family Feud plus The Wendy Williams Show, which airs on Foxowned stations.
80. Sean Mills
(—) Head of Original Content,
Mills used 2016 to change Snapchat from a simple social media and image-messaging toy for teens into a surprising original content powerhouse. Turner Broadcasting inked a deal to add original content to Snapchat’s Discover platform; the NFL has a dedicated channel on Discover; and NBCUniversal and Comedy Central also inked content deals. MTV debuted a documentary on the platform, and Jimmy Fallon has agreed to create a spinoff series of exclusive videos.
81. Greg Berlanti
(75) ▼ Executive Producer,
The Flash, Supergirl,
Riverdale and Arrow
You can tell what Greg Berlanti happily read as a kid—and the TV industry is grateful for that. With the second season of his series Supergirl moving to The CW, Berlanti has created a whole new programming niche for the network. Three other shows based on DC Comics from the superhero guru—The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow—are CW offerings as well. Also coming: Riverdale, based on life in the Archie comics.
82. Kevin Reilly
(93) ▲ President,
TBS and TNT and CCO,
The former Fox, NBC and FX programming exec has helped lead the conversation about reducing ad loads and is steering TNT toward prestige, renewing Animal Kingdom and launching Good Behavior. The new shows are darker than the network’s usual fare and air with fewer commercials. Originals Angie Tribeca, The Detour and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee have enhanced TBS—and the cred of the 2016 B&C Hall of Fame inductee.
83. Gordon Smith
(89) ▲ President and CEO,
National Association of Broadcasters
Smith faces the challenge of guiding an industry through a second digital transition. While the incentive auction was focused on TV stations giving up their spectrum, the repack will be all about getting broadcasters still in the business onto new channels, ideally with the new interactive transmission standard, ATSC 3.0. That could be the key to their competitive future.
84. Creative Artists Agency
(96) ▲ TV Department
Now 41 years young, the agency weathered a best-selling oral history featuring prodigal cofounder Michael Ovitz to finish 2016 with more client Emmy wins and showrunners on its list than any competitor. The TV unit, which packaged The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Empire and many more, is run by 10 co-heads: Adam Berkowitz, Alan Braun, Joe Cohen, Jeff Jacobs, Nick Khan, Steve Lafferty, Peter Micelli, Ted Miller, Sonya Rosenfeld and Eric Wattenberg.
85. Rick Rosen
(84) ▼ Head of TV,
With clients whose reach in the television landscape seems to grow every year—including Conan O’Brien and Dick Wolf—it’s hard not to see why WME-IMG represents more than half the scripted shows on TV, and even more unscripted ones. The agency has moved into buzzy new territory in the past year with the launch of esport franchise ELeague— in partnership with Turner Sports— and the acquisition of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
86. John Momtazee
(75) ▼ Managing Director (L.A.),
Moelis & Co.
The station broker extraordinaire had another active year in 2016. After advising Meredith on its proposed $3.1 billion merger with Media General (Media General wound up agreeing to be bought by Nexstar), Moelis & Co. helped Sinclair Broadcast Group sell senior notes, advised on Relativity Media’s Chapter 11 reorganization and sold a stake in the comedy website Funny or Die to AMC Networks. All in all, no joke.
87. Aryeh Bourkoff
(93) ▲ CEO, LionTree
The investment banker has been at the center of a number of big deals. He advised on Charter’s $78 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global’s $23 billion purchase of Virgin Media. And he played a role in Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s departure. Bourkoff also has friends in Washington. He was linked to Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President-elect Trump, as he reportedly explored launching Trump TV.
88. Brad Barrett
(85) ▼ Senior VP,
The Capital Group
Barrett is responsible for making big investments in media, internet and telecom stocks at the Capital Group, which has held stakes in Comcast, 21st Century Fox and Netflix. (The company declined to comment on its current holdings.) Big investments give Barrett entrée into the boardroom, and he uses his access to management to gain insight into industry trends, turning that insight into investment recommendations and strategies.
89. Gian Fulgoni
(—) CEO, comScore
In early February, comScore completed its merger with Rentrak, upending the content measurement game, serving notice that cross-platform, digital audience research would be Job One. And since taking over as CEO in August, Fulgoni has shepherded the launch of a data-driven digital ad tracking service; partnered with Facebook, Roku and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group; and launched new offerings everywhere from Brazil to the Netherlands.
90. Jay Sures
(87) ▼ Managing Director, UTA
It has been a whirlwind time for United Talent Agency’s television practice, which Sures oversees. The acquisition of N.S. Bienstock in 2014 brought in news anchors and unscripted-show clients. In 2015, several top comedy agents left CAA for UTA, prompting a lawsuit. Sures’ personal clients include Chuck Lorre, Darren Star and Larry Wilmore, who cohosted the B&C Hall of Fame event in October when Sures was inducted.
91. Shane Smith
(83) ▼ Cofounder,
CEO, Vice Media
Vice Media’s hipness and credibility grows with projects such as HBO’s Vice News Tonight (and a fascinating post-election chat with President Obama). Finances have solidified with Disney’s $400 million investment that’s fueling an international push for Viceland reportedly targeting launches in 50 countries next year. Disney’s 18% stake could grow to an outright purchase. Vice’s audience has led to a $4.5 billion valuation.
92. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)
(—) Chairman, House Energy
& Commerce Committee
Walden, a former broadcaster instrumental in legislation establishing the broadcast spectrum auction as House Communications Subcommittee chairman, just got the big gavel as chair of parent Energy & Commerce. With a GOP Senate and president, he could be key to efforts to roll back the FCC’s regulatory agenda—most notably net neutrality rules—or rewriting communications laws for the digital age.
93. Chris McCarthy
(—) President of MTV,
VH1 and Logo
Ratings successes at Logo led McCarthy to become VH1 general manager in 2015; his job titles have grown to president of MTV, VH1 and Logo as of October. Boss Doug Herzog noted that McCarthy has “infused every brand he’s led with creativity, strategic clarity and distinctive talent,” and that he’s generated ratings results. MTV could prove the biggest challenge yet for the Viacom veteran (who also oversaw MTV2 and mtvU).
94. Craig Moffett
(92) ▼ Principal and Senior Analyst,
Big cable landscape changes are keeping Moffett busy. The influential analyst weighs in on a consolidating industry at a time when distribution is regarded as a better asset than content. Recently, Moffett has been weighing in on AT&T’s launch of DirecTV Now. At its low price point, Moffett sees AT&T transitioning DirecTV to an OTT-first platform. But while that strategy might release cash at first, AT&T would be liquidating its business, he concludes.
95. Jeff Zucker
Zucker has the martialed forces of multiple news platforms and leaned into the singular opportunity of the presidential campaign, courting controversy but reaping massive ratings. The network faces a new challenge with President-elect Trump, who disdains the media and has hammered CNN for, among other things, its reporting of his claims of voter fraud and entangling business alliances.
96. Ajit Pai
(—) Senior Republican Commissioner, FCC
The senior Republican FCC commissioner has long offered up his vision of a less regulatory, less political, more data-driven agency. Now he can do more than just make impassioned suggestions. Pai will be part of an FCC majority, almost certainly surrounded by dereg-minded colleagues who share that agency vision. He may also either be interim or even non-interim FCC chair under President Trump.
97. Steve Harvey
(94) ▼ Host,
The Steve Harvey Show
and Family Feud
Harvey has gained mojo with hosting gigs across all of television, including syndicated game show Family Feud, primetime game show Celebrity Family Feud, primetime reality show Little Big Shots and daytime talker The Steve Harvey Show. Such is his power that he managed to get a raise while moving his talk show to L.A., even though the show, a mid-range ratings performer, will now be more expensive to produce.
98. Clay Bavor
Bavor has been driving a vision that seemingly ensures Google will maintain and grow its VR leadership position as the technology connects with the mainstream. To wit: Google recently added Daydream View, a mobile-connected headset with motion controllers that relies on the company’s popular Android platform. Expect much more in store; there are rumors Google is also pursuing higher-end headsets and broader ecosystems to take on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
99. Phil Spencer
(—) Xbox Head
From the first iterations of the Xbox 360 to the recent launch of the Xbox One S, Spencer has championed Microsoft’s connected platform as more than a gaming console: It’s your living-room entertainment hub. And Xbox has followed through: Most every week in 2016, a new major broadcaster—ESPN, HBO, etc.—launched an app on the platform. Plus, the new Xbox One S has something rival PlayStation Pro does not: a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc drive.
100. Mark Richer
(—) ATSC President
As the broadcast industry moves toward adoption of ATSC 3.0— the next-gen TV transmission system—Richer has overseen some of the standard’s greatest advances in 2016: The nation’s first commercial TV station launching 24/7 simulcasting with ATSC 3.0; Tribune Media’s WJW Cleveland World Series broadcast using ATSC 3.0; and a push among ATSC and other groups (NAB, CTA, etc.) asking the FCC for voluntary implementation of the standard.
Listbusters-in-Chief: Team Trump
"What do we do?” When the (electoral) votes were counted, that became the operative question for this publication. Had Donald Trump lost the presidential election, we would have found a ranking here either for The Celebrity Apprentice producer himself or for one of his MVPs. The spin would have been the bright future of the nascent Trump News Network (brought to you by AdSense).
The president-elect changed everything in media over the last year and a half—the conversation, the method, the outcome. And his loyal media lieutenants will now help him run the U.S. Breitbart bulldog Steve Bannon becomes chief strategist in the administration. Unflappable campaign manager Kellyanne Conway still speaks for him. Trump’s children—and influential son-in-law Jared Kushner—will walk that awkward route from boardroom to war room. And there’s no arguing— not now—that Trump’s influence will be felt in all directions— news coverage, corporate tax structure, regulation and M&A, among many others. His wrenchingly divisive rise was at once awful and flawless. Whatever he did, it worked; now it’s time to wonder how it will continue to.