Beth Roberts spends her days negotiating everything from brand integrations on Bravo, to online tie-ins for SyFy, to high-level talent deals for USA. But her greatest accomplishments come through collaboration.
“Cable is very much led by teams,” says the executive, who oversees business affairs for NBCU’s entire cable portfolio, and once did the same job for NBC. “In any given deal, there will be a team of people at the table from several different departments, and all of those people will weigh in. My job is to get buy-in from everyone.”
That buy-in doesn’t stop inside NBCU; it extends to any studios with whom the company may be working. To keep everyone on the same page, Roberts has devised creative ways to standardize otherwise difficult processes.
“We’re always looking at the landscape and trying to figure out practical solutions so these business models can evolve,” she says.
Toward that end, Roberts created the cable production rate card. The card allows NBCU to show a studio a revenue range generated by any product integration, and negotiate the studio’s take from there. Any extra money is put into a production enhancement fund, which producers can use as they wish.
“It’s taken us a while to figure out that cable doesn’t run the same way as broadcast,” Roberts says. “We don’t have to do everything the way it’s always been done.”
Roberts would know all about the distinction. She has been in her post since 2007 after serving as executive VP of business affairs for NBC’s entertainment and cable entertainment divisions. She joined NBC Entertainment as director of business affairs in September 1997, and also had stints at UPN (now The CW) and the William Morris Agency (now WME Entertainment).
Her willingness to approach situations with fresh eyes has kept Roberts listed among Hollywood’s most powerful executives by various publications. “Beth truly has a deep understanding of our industry,” says Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment. “She has tremendous experience, great relationships, and approaches her job in a very creative and innovative way.”