Mike Biard negotiates deals for Fox much like he races motorcycles: with calm, cool and an all-out desire to win. The most recent of these deals was perhaps his most important and high-profile: Biard and his team led Fox’s efforts to craft a lucrative retransmission consent deal with Time Warner Cable for News Corp.’s raft of broadcast and cable networks.
That deal, considered an industry benchmark, was signed on New Year’s Day 2010 and was reported to be in the neighborhood of 50 to 75 cents per subscriber. It’s expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to News Corp. alone, and sets a strong precedent for other broadcasters as they go up against cable operators in their own negotiations.
While those deals occasionally became contentious, Biard says it helped that News Corp.’s executive team “was resolute about what we had to accomplish to start to recover more proportional value for the entertainment we were delivering. It’s an easy job when you have the full backing and resources of the company behind you.”
The Fox network is just one piece of Biard’s broad portfolio, which includes 35 networks such as FX, Fox Movie Channel, Big Ten Network, National Geographic Channel, Speed, Fuel TV, 19 regional sports networks, and the new Nat Geo Wild and Fox Soccer Plus. Making the best deals for all of those businesses can get challenging.
“You do your best to see around corners,” Biard says. “You have to know that you aren’t going to anticipate every single issue, but that you will have enough future opportunities that you will be able to go back to your clients and deal. They can’t anticipate everything, either; ultimately, our distributors need us and we need them.”
Says Mike Hopkins, president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Networks, “Mike thinks about things critically and analytically, and then he’s very patient. He works constructively and creatively with the other side until a deal is reached. And people like working with him: He’s funny, engaging and tough.”