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Published March 3, 2008
The affiliate deal that ESPN signed with Time Warner Cable in April was as difficult to negotiate as any recent deal between a sports network and a cable operator. Two years in the making, the cable operator ultimately agreed to renew its existing deals and launch new services, like ESPNU and ESPN2 HD.
The fact that the deal was even signed is significant, especially since other sports networks such as NFL Network and Big Ten Network have been unable to work out any kind of deal with Time Warner Cable, the country's second-largest cable operator.
But ESPN was able to convince Time Warner Cable to do the deal, thanks in large part to David Preschlack, ESPN's executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing, who was on the front lines for those talks.
Until the end, that is.
When it came time to sign the deal, Preschlack was thousands of miles away, negotiating another deal. Disney brass called on him to travel to France to convince French satellite operator Canal Satellite to carry Disney Channel, Jetix and ESPN International.
"He's doing a lot of deals," said Preschlack's boss, Sean Bratches, ESPN's executive vice president of sales and marketing.
In a year when Preschlack received a promotion to become second-in-command for ESPN's largest revenue-producing department - affiliate sales and marketing - he said he's most proud of helping expand some of ESPN's newer services.
In the past year, Preschlack helped ESPNU double distribution from 10 million homes to 20 million, and ESPN Deportes triple distribution from 2 million homes to 6 million. He also oversaw deals that put ESPN's broadband service ESPN360 in 20 million homes - half of all broadband homes in the United States.
Part of Preschlack's success comes from his personality. He has earned the reputation as a likable executive who does not use a heavy—handed approach.
"He's well—liked and respected in the heat of the deal, before and after," Bratches said.