Road to NFL Gig Ran Through Club Med Court

Aug 4, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A most unlikely detour from the usual executive career path-namely, a year on the tennis court in the exotic island paradise of Club Med Turkoise-turned out to be the crucial step that led Adam Shaw to a job at Fox, his first in the industry, and a succession of industry jobs that have won him a spot on the starting squad of the soon-to-launch NFL Network.
Until that detour to the Turk and Caicos Islands in the West Indies, 575 miles southeast of Miami, the young Yale grad had been doing management consulting in Boston and was poised to become an investment banker, but “I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he said. What he wanted was to work his way out of consulting and into television.
Despite his sterling Ivy League resume, he hadn’t been able to get a foot in TV’s door because of the it’s-not-what-you-know-it’s-who-you-know factor.
So after two years in management consulting, he took a “more circuitous path,” responding to the siren call of a girlfriend who was working down at that Club Med. She had told him “how incredible it was,” urging him to come and take a job as Club Med tennis pro. “It was the greatest year of my life,” Mr. Shaw said.
His qualification for the Club Med job: His dad had played in local tournaments and taught him tennis as a kid. He took the flight, got the job. Fade out/fade in:A senior Disney executive visiting the Club Med heard him mention that he was interested in television and, miraculously, followed through on a promise to arrange an interview. That turned out to be the meeting with Jeff Shell at News Corp. that changed Mr. Shaw’s life.
He moved quickly up the corporate ladder at Fox and its cable operations, becoming senior VP of business operations and finance at FX Networks in just seven years. At Fox, he was instrumental in the launch of National Geographic Channel, the acquisition of Speed Channel and the sale of Fox Family Channel (now ABC Family) to Disney.
Despite imes being tough these days for would-be new cable channels, Mr. Shaw thinks the NFL Network has what it takes to secure the necessary carriage agreements from cable and satellite operators, partly because, like National Geographic, it’s a name brand with great cachet.
“It’s a great service at a very reasonable price that we think will counteract some of the negative perceptions of sports channels,” Mr. Shaw said, noting pointedly that ESPN, the lightning rod for cable operators’ gripes about the high cost of carrying sports networks, charges “north of” $2 per subscriber. “We’re charging less than 10 percent of that,” Mr. Shaw said.
Name: Adam Shaw
Date of Birth: Oct. 9, 1971
Place of Birth: New York City
Job Title: Senior VP, distribution, NFL Networks
Big Break: Being hired at Fox by Jeff Shell, the former News Corp. executive who now heads Gemstar-TV Guide
Rep: Attorney P.J. Shapiro at Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie & Stiffelman
Who Knew? The future NFL Networks executive was once a cornerback on the Yale junior varsity football team. His greatest moment on the field came during his freshman year, in the fourth quarter of a tied game with the Yale team’s undefeated season hanging in the balance. With five minutes left, “I had my only interception of the year,” said Mr. Shaw, whose father has made him watch the video “at least” 50 times since. “We drove down the field and scored a touchdown, preserving our undefeated season.”