Dan York Named CEO of Cox Media Group

Dan York, former chief content officer at DirecTV and MediaPlay News “Digital Driver,” has been named CEO of Cox Media Group.

York will be responsible for all aspects of managing the company’s media platforms and will oversee CMG’s long-term strategic priorities.

Steve Pruett, who was interim CEO, will continue as executive chairman of CMG. He said York’s success in media, content, distribution, operations, and successfully leading large organizations, makes him essential.

Dan York

“Most importantly, [York] embraces contemporary thinking as the media landscape continues to evolve,” Pruett said in a statement. “We have full confidence he is the right person to lead CMG in the next phase of the company’s growth.”

As CCO at DirecTV, York developed a reputation for being a hard negotiator, including driving programmers to tears during all-night contract proceedings, according to a 2016 Los Angeles Times profile.

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York helped build AT&T’s video business over the past 15 years from a start-up to one of the nation’s largest pay-TV provider and the world’s largest licensor of content. During his tenure he oversaw all content activities, including licensing, operations, strategy, investments, original content, compliance, and ran AT&T’s ad sales and regional sports networks.

Indeed, it was York who allegedly was instrumental in preventing DirecTV from picking up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ regional cable channel, SportsNet LA, which is controlled by the former Time Warner Cable (now part of Charter Communications). The heavy-handed tactics resulted in the Justice Department lawsuit against AT&T-owned DirecTV.

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“We all negotiate hard to get good deals,” a veteran TV executive told the Times. “But Dan mashes your face into the cement.”

DirecTV and other AT&T cable systems finally ended the Dodgers blackout in April 2020.

AT&T Content Chief Dan York Leaving

AT&T has confirmed that longtime entertainment executive Dan York is leaving the telecom, effective March 1. His position will be assumed by Rob Thun, SVP of content and programming.

York, who had been chief content officer at DirecTV since 2012, transitioned over to AT&T after the telecom acquired the satellite TV operator.

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“We appreciate Dan’s many years of service,” Thaddeus Arroyo, chief executive of the company’s consumer and communications unit, told the Los Angeles Times in a statement. “His contributions significantly shaped our content strategies and we are grateful for his leadership and commitment to providing our customers with their favorite live sports and entertainment.”

Dan York

York, a former “Digital Driver” at Media Play News, was known for his negotiating skills with content holders. Yet, in recent years, DirecTV has lost millions of subscribers as AT&T transitions focus on WarnerMedia Entertainment and HBO Max.

York was responsible for securing DirecTV’s exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket,” a multi-game programing deal that reportedly costs the satellite operator $1.5 billion annually in license fees.

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‘Digital Driver’ Headed to Witness Stand in AT&T/DOJ Trial

AT&T entertainment chief content officer Dan York is reportedly slated to appear on the witness stand, along with other (including rivals Cox Communications and Comcast) industry executives, when the federal antitrust case against AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner begins today (March 22) in New York.

At the center of the government’s case against the AT&T/Time Warner merger is the contention the combined companies would consolidate too much industry power in the hands of one company, which the Dept. of Justice believes would stifle competition and hurt consumers.

York is a longtime inclusion in Media Play News’ (formerly Home Media Magazine) annual “Digital Drivers” feature highlighting executives driving digital entertainment.

But that’s not why York will appear under oath.

Instead, it is his alleged hardball negotiating tactics when he worked at DirecTV. The satellite operator was acquired by AT&T in 2014 for $48.4 billion.

While at DirecTV, York allegedly persuaded rival pay-TV operators to not carry SportsNet LA, a 25-year broadcast entity created in 2014 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner Cable.

According to a Los Angeles Times 2016 profile, York’s all-night, tirade-fueled negotiating tactics were akin to “mashing your face into the cement,” among other allegations.

York reportedly felt burned by TWC in a previous carriage negotiation for the cabler’s Los Angeles Lakers network.

The DOJ subsequently filed a lawsuit against DirecTV over its York-led negotiations with The Weather Channel. York allegedly demanded the channel cut its programing fees 75%, which it refused to do. DirecTV then replaced The Weather Channel (just acquired by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios for $300 million) with other programing, confusing subscribers who had paid for the former.

While hardball negotiations are commonplace in Hollywood, broadcast and pay-TV, the DOJ apparently feels York’s behavior underscores the potential that a combined AT&T/Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., HBO, Turner and CNN, would be anticompetitive going forward.