SBD/September 11, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With Universal Sports Network VP/Programming Robert James

James says he enjoys cycling more than 30 miles a few times a week
From bike rides in the Santa Monica Mountains at sunset, to pre-dawn phone calls overseas, it seems Universal Sports Network VP/Programming ROBERT JAMES is not content just coasting. James, in his new position since May, recently caught up with THE DAILY and discussed his approach to rights negotiations, what he finds so appealing about a nice hotel lobby, and his endless use of Google Maps.

Most of my time at work is spent thinking about...

I’m in charge of all content acquisitions for the network so it’s just nonstop negotiations. Early morning, daily calls to Europe, interacting with all the rights holders. It’s really nonstop. Also, I’m constantly thinking about the Boston Marathon. As the national rights-holder, we’re eyeballing 2014 and we’re trying to be cognizant of 2013 and all those affected, from the victims to the runners, the families and spectators. We’re thinking about how we can bring the story to light.

The art of negotiating...
I tell people all the time that the art of the phone call, it’s a lost art in this business. You’ve got to have the pedal down all the time in this business. You can’t let up. There’s a lot of competition out there for rights, so you have to consistently communicate with the rights holder. If you’re not, another network might sneak up on you and undermine your efforts and try to take the rights away from you.

Best advice I've ever received...
JIM BATES, back at Sports Channel New York, told me we only have one thing to rely on and that’s our reputation. I take that to heart, whether it’s in business or personal life. You’ve got your reputation, it stands out in front of you, it’s your calling card. The people you deal with have to be able to trust you.

Putting miles on my smartphone...
I use Google Maps religiously no matter what city I’m in. Also, foreign language apps, you can’t underestimate pleasantries in a foreign language. I think texting clients, vendors and partners has become almost as prevalent as e-mails in this industry, too.

Can't beat it for a business lunch...
Any hotel lobby, any restaurant that’s quiet. The ideal place is where you can hear the person sitting across the table from you. Find me a hotel lobby and I’ll be very satisfied, there’s a lot of business that goes on there.

Getting back in gear...
I’m a big road cyclist, so I’ll do 30 or 40 miles in the Santa Monica Mountains and try to unwind that way. Just getting those endorphins going puts me in a good frame of mind. I try to do that if I’m not traveling, two to three times a week. I’ll cut out of work at night and do it as the sun sets, or on a Saturday morning I’ll be up at the crack of dawn.
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