Tom Cerio

  • Former Executive Vice President, Cable Sales



Tom Cerio retired from Warner Bros. and continues to serve as consultant with EVP, Cable Sales, responsible for selling all Warner Bros. TV programming to domestic basic cable networks and digital content providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. He is also responsible for selling WB theatrical films to domestic broadcast and cable networks. He has vast experience distributing TV Series by working with a highly skilled/trained team of executives to develop strategies that maximize revenue across the broadcast, basic cable and digital platforms. Over the past several years, he has sold programs such as The Big Bang Theory and Two Broke Girls for record prices, raising the bar for half-hour comedies in basic cable. This entails developing persuasive presentations with the WB research team, producing exciting DVD presentations as well as print materials with the WB marketing team and working with the WB legal team on deal sheets and contracts. The same process is deployed in selling WB theatrical film packages, and to date Warner Bros. is the leader in domestic film sales for basic cable.

Check out URI’s ‘Big Thinkers’ profile on Tom here.

Past Employment

HBO (2003 – 2009) EVP Program Sales – He was responsible for distributing some of the most iconic programs in television such as Sopranos, Sex and the City and Band of Brothers to basic cable networks. This was the first time off cable programming was distributed in a meaningful way in domestic US and sold at record pricing. HBO and Warner Bros. distribution teams joined forces to collaborate in this effort with tremendous results, also a first.

Disney (1990 – 2003) EVP of Program Sales – was responsible for distribution on both broadcast syndication and basic cable platforms. In the early development of basic cable, helped establish new models for distribution of TV Series allowing programs to air on broadcast and basic cable networks simultaneously. Also helped developed new windowing models for feature films that rotated from broadcast to cable.

Orion Pictures (1980 – 1990) SVP of Program Sales – started career in television distribution and became one of the first sales executives to distribute across both broadcast and basic cable. Constructed some of the earliest program distribution models for basic cable and made some of the first sales to this platform in the early 80’s.

Advice for Students

The best advice I can give is to keep an open mind, embrace change and don’t be afraid of doing things differently. One of the most exciting moments in my career came at the dawn of basic cable when broadcasters were up in arms about this new platform and predicting the fall of television. This never happened, of course, and selling into that new emerging basic cable platform was very unpopular and difficult. As a young executive presenting new distribution models, I had to have great patience, build solid presentations based on sound research, be very persuasive and work tirelessly. That effort yielded huge revenue for the studio and set my career in motion. Most recently, I had to do it all over again with the emergence of the new digital platform, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. This time I was better prepared, but trust me when I tell you, I met the same resistance and had to work just as hard 30 years later. It was and is so much fun!!