In an effort to bolster its event and marketing expertise,
Viewer's Choice last week hired former DirecTV Inc. executive Rob Jacobson as its
senior vice president, distribution and product development.
The pay-per-view network is hoping that Jacobson -- who was
instrumental in negotiating DirecTV's groundbreaking professional-league
out-of-market sports deals -- will assist it in securing those same deals for the cable
Jacobson will be responsible for distribution and product
development, and he will oversee the network's affiliate-sales department, affiliate
research and new-product development.
He was DirecTV's vice president of programming
acquisitions for the East Coast, responsible for negotiating affiliation agreements with
basic- and premium-programming networks and with the professional sports leagues.
Jacobson was also part of DirecTV's strategy to create
sports-programming niches, including March's college-basketball out-of-market
package, the Multi-Cam Racing Series and its Sports' Ivy League Friday Nights
"Rob brings a wealth of experience in the areas of
new-product development and affiliate sales, and he has had the unique experience and
advantage of establishing differentiated product offerings and working with a number of
exciting distribution platforms," Viewer's Choice president Mindy Herman said.
"He will help Viewer's Choice to continue to
forge strong, strategic partnerships with both our affiliates and new content providers,
such as the major professional sports leagues," she added.
Jacobson said that while his initial goal is to help forge
stronger relationships between the network and its affiliates, he's also hoping to
develop programming that will help operators to generate additional PPV revenue,
particularly in the digital environment.
"The focus will be to establish good relationships
with affiliates and to help them maximize their investments in the new digital set-top
boxes," he said. "Also, we'll look to create new revenue opportunities, and
a lot of that focus will be on professional sports."
Thus far, direct-broadcast satellite services have been the
only distributors of popular, out-of-market packages from the National Football League,
National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association.
The leagues fear that distribution on highly penetrated
cable systems would hurt the ratings performance of local and national broadcast and cable
But the NBA has made overtures to operators about carrying
at least a portion of its package, while the NHL has said it would consider cable
distribution. The NFL has an exclusive deal with DirecTV that runs through 2002.
Prior to DirecTV, Jacobson worked at Fox/Liberty Networks,
where he was vice president, affiliate sales and marketing.
Before Fox/Liberty, he was vice president, programming and
business affairs for American Sky Broadcasting LLC, the News Corp.-planned DBS service
that never got off the ground.