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SBJ/March 3 - 9, 2008/Forty Under 40
Published March 3, 2008
Late last year, the Big Ten Conference was ready to go to war with CSTV. CBS-owned CSTV held the rights to several of the conference's Olympic-style sports, and the Big Ten wanted them back for its fledgling Big Ten Network. For several months, the talks went nowhere and became increasingly acrimonious.
That's when Tim Pernetti stepped in. CSTV's executive vice president of content has defined his career by successfully cultivating and maintaining relationships, and he used those skills to forge a deal.
The former Rutgers tight end, who is a radio analyst for the football team, met the problem head on. He called Jim Delany, the Big Ten's commissioner, and told him that they could cut a deal that would benefit both sides.
"I just thought it was important to be honest with him about our options," Pernetti said. "I don't believe in strong-arm tactics."
The two sides came to an agreement after a couple of weeks.
"Programming is all about relationships," Pernetti said. "You have to have good instincts and ideas. But without relationships, you don't have programming."
That's why CSTV co-founders Chris Bevilacqua and Brian Bedol hired the then 32-year-old Pernetti to help get CSTV off the ground. They depended on Pernetti's relationships with college conferences and universities to bring programming to a network that didn't yet have any distribution.
"Tim was integral in getting this done, even when we didn't have a network," Bevilacqua said. "He's good at setting strategy and getting people to march behind him. He has the qualities of a real leader."
The fact that Pernetti can maintain such good relationships with conferences, schools and even cable operators impresses his peers.
"He has a subtle ability to mix a personable approach with whatever business you have at hand," said Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior vice president for basketball and business strategies.