Michael Cooper got his first taste of the business world when he was in high school, learning how to read spreadsheets as an intern at Chase Manhattan Bank.
While his friends took the summers off, Cooper would take the bus each day from his home in New Jersey into Manhattan, where his father, William, was an executive at the bank.
Cooper’s father, whom he describes as his mentor, passed away last year, not before watching his son work his way up the ranks in the business world, from working as a temp at the Los Angeles Times to traveling around Eastern Europe looking for business development opportunities for a publication called Russian Investor to Court TV, where he was vice president of national accounts and general manager for video-on-demand.
Not one to stay off the fast track, Cooper took a new gig last March at Fox Cable Networks, where he is vice president of affiliate advertising sales. He’s key to Fox’s efforts to help operators drive local ad sales, and increase the local-ad insertion base for nascent networks like Fuel. His past and present bosses clearly see him as an ambitious and effective team player.
“Cooper stands out from the crowd because of his unique ability to be aggressive about selling his products without the client ever feeling pressured,” says Court TV executive vice president Bob Rose. “He’s as well liked as anyone who has ever worked for Court TV.”
Fox Cable executive vice president Lindsay Gardner echoes that sentiment, “He’s got an infectious smile. I have yet to see him rattled, and he’s won the respect and affection of his colleagues.”
Cooper’s entry to the cable industry came when the Los Angeles Times made him general manager of its print guide unit, and he was charged with selling 26 versions of the guides to cable operators in California.
Looking for job opportunities in cable, Cooper attended the Western Show in 1998, where he received a handful of offers. He took Court TV’s offer, joining the network in 1999.
During his time there, Court TV grew from about 30 million to 80 million subscribers — thanks not only to Cooper and the rest of the distribution team, but also because of a programming overhaul and marketing push. Cooper says he made the move to Fox because he needed new challenges. “We reached a point where we were fully distributed,” he says of Court TV. “I felt it was time for me to move on to a bigger platform.”