Cablevision’s ex-owners launch venture capital firm

By Jim O'Neill on Nov 07 2016 at 10:00 AM

Former Cablevision CEO Jimmy Dolan and wife Kristin, who had been COO at the cableco before its acquisition by Altice Group, have launched a venture capital fund focusing on data, analytics and technology-based businesses.

Kristin Dolan will be the head of the new Dolan Family Ventures (DFV) fund as managing partner, with her husband listed as an investor and strategic adviser.

“DFV will allow us to pursue opportunities with companies and talent that can benefit from our capital, insights, relationships, entrepreneurial experience and operational skills to accelerate their growth, development and success,” Kristin Dolan said in a statement.

Altice bought the Long Island, N.Y.-based cable operator for $17.7 billion. DFV did not disclose the size of its fund.

Jimmy Dolan owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, and is executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Co. In addition, he is executive chairman of MSG Networks, which became a standalone company following the 2015 spin-off of the Madison Square Garden Co. and serves on the board of directors for MSG, MSG Networks and AMC Networks.

Cablevision, under the Dolan family, faced tough competition in the New York metro area in the form of Time Warner Cable and Verizon. And it was on the bleeding edge of a lot of consumer initiatives, including offering a “Cord Cutter Package” that paired a broadband connection with an HDTV antenna that customers can self install for $44.95 a month.

The result: A big pipe (50 Mbps or higher) that allows users to get as much OTT and SVOD content as they want delivered over the Internet, as well as all the local over-the-air channels – which in the Tri-State area that Cablevision serves -- New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – is a bushel full. Not only do New Yorkers (which is where Cablevision has its deepest penetration) have access to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, but they also get PBS and a slew of other channels.

Jimmy Dolan’s philosophy around the industry has veered significantly from other traditional pay-TV and Internet providers, aligning, frankly, more with that of over-the-top providers.

“Ultimately over the long term I think that the whole video product is eventually going to go to the Internet,” Dolan said in a Wall Street Journal article. “I’m not willing to cede that position now, and I’ve got a lot of customers that buy my video product…[but] the handwriting is on the wall, particularly when you look at young customers.”

And, he said, fighting the transition to Internet-delivered television was “a losing battle.”

“I don’t like to fight trends, I think it’s a losing battle,” he said. “I think you try and take advantage of it… The tide is supporting more and more of that kind of movement, and as a distributor, I have to plan for when customers are going to go that way.”

Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn