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SBD/Issue 20/Sports Media
DirecTV CEO Mike White Profiled By Hollywood Reporter
Published October 8, 2010
|DirecTV's White Notes NFL Sunday Ticket
Still Important Feature For The Company
Former PepsiCo Vice Chair Mike White joined the board of DirecTV in ‘09 and took over as Chair, President & CEO at the start of this year. He is featured in a Q&A with the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and excerpts follow.
Q: You are featured in Sunday's episode of CBS' "Undercover Boss," where they had you do DirecTV field work. Was there a benefit to doing the show beyond getting some publicity for the company?
White: I'm still a new CEO in a new industry. I spent 20 years in the consumer-products world selling Pepsi and Doritos. I really thought it would be an invaluable opportunity to learn more about our business. We critically depend on our field technicians and call agents who are the voice of DirecTV to our customers, and this was a great opportunity to connect with them.
Q: Did you learn anything new about DirecTV or its customers?
White: When you get out there, you realize how complex and sophisticated the technology we have is, and that every home is different. Trying to activate that technology in the home means you bump up against all kinds of unique things. I was struck by how physically demanding the technician job is and how complex the call-agent job is. We take 127 million calls a year, and you would like to think every one is perfect. But it is a bit like a needle in the haystack when you got someone on the other end of the phone trying to troubleshoot what the customer's problem is. I was really pleased with some things. Our folks are incredibly passionate about customer service. But some things weren't working exactly the way we drew them up in the laboratory.
Q: How key is your NFL Sunday Ticket contract in the digital age?
White: Sports is fundamental to our identity at DirecTV, and certainly the NFL is one of the most popular sports in America. For us, our partnership, which we have had for over 15 years, is really important. This year we expanded our service with the addition of the iPad application. It continues to be an important part of DirecTV.
Q: Is Sunday Ticket a profitable business?
White: I wouldn't comment on specifics. We have a new deal with the NFL negotiated a year ago, and we are going to look to expand the franchise (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/8).