Updated: Jacobson Departs As In Demand CEO

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After 10 years with the purveyor of movies, events and other on-demand content, Rob Jacobson has left In Demand Networks.

Jacobson had been with the company since 1999, serving as its president and CEO since 2004. His contract had recently ended.

Time Warner Cable senior vice president, video product strategy Bob Benya will serve as the interim leader for the company, which is owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Advance-Newhouse, parent of Bright House Networks.

Rob Jacobson in 2007

In Demand declined to elaborate on Jacobson's exit, beyond the following statement:

"Robert Jacobson, whose contract with In Demand Networks has recently expired, has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. Effective immediately, Bob Benya will assume the role of interim chief executive officer...[He] has served on the board of directors for In Demand Networks for the last five years. A search for a permanent replacement will commence immediately."

At Time Warner Cable, executive vice president and chief strategy officer Peter Stern sent an internal memo, obtained by MCN, about Benya, stepping into the interim role at In Demand.

"Bob is the ideal person to lead In Demand at this critical juncture. He is on the board of In Demand and has been instrumental in guiding TWC's On Demand, Interactive TV and Enhanced TV initiatives. In addition, during his more than 28 years in cable and new media, he has held senior sales, marketing, programming and operations management positions. While serving in this interim role, he will continue to be our SVP of Video Product Strategy one day a week, with assistance from his team and our colleagues," the memo said. "The graciousness with which Bob agreed to take on this role is indicative of his positive attitude and exemplary leadership. Please join me in congratulating him on this assignment and wishing him the absolute best."

Under Jacobson's watch, In Demand evolved from a traditional pay-per-view provider to a distributor of video-on-demand, subscription VOD, PPV and high-definition programming, reaching some 40 million cable homes.
In addition to working with studios and other media companies in developing a "virtual video store" of movie titles, Jacobson developed the SVOD partnership with Howard Stern and Howard TV.

He also carved out a successful events business in the realms of boxing, wrestling and UFC cards, and improved cable's position with out-of-market sports packages via deals for "NBA League Pass," "NHL Center Ice," "MLS Direct Kick" and "MLB Extra Innings."

With the latter, Jacobson played a key role in the renegotiations of the baseball package that helped lead to the formation of the linear MLB Network, of which In Demand's owners now hold an equity stake.

In May 2007, In Demand relaunched its former INHD channel as Mojo HD, a male-targeted service that was home to a number of original series. In addition to its owners, Mojo had carriage with Cablevision, Mediacom and Charter systems, for a little more than 10 million subscribers.

The network, conceived as a vehicle to sate viewers' desire for true high-definition fare, was shuttered last December. At that point, the company issued a statement indicating that goal has been accomplished, owing to the proliferation of more HD programming.

Jacobson joined In Demand in 1999 as senior vice president, programming/business development. Before that, he headed DirecTV's east coast programming unit where, in conjunction with CBS Sports, he created the out-of-market "Mega March Madness" college basketball tournament package.

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