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No. 17: USA Networks

New York

Revenue: $4.6 billion

Net loss: $55.5 million

Chairman and CEO Barry Diller recently reached across the Atlantic, nabbing top British TV exec Michael Jackson of Channel 4 to oversee all of USA’s entertainment assets –USA Cable, Studios USA and USA Films. That’s half of the diversified company’s business, which also includes Ticketmaster, Home Shopping Network and Internet assets. Most recently, USA agreed to buy Expedia from Microsoft.

Diller’s challenge is creating an integrated whole. He believes that USA’s powerful databases, customer reach and fulfillment capabilities (just think how many calls HSN takes and units it ships) set USA apart and makes it a key player as entertainment, technology and commerce converge. And it’s why he feels USA can take its place among larger rivals.

Not that he’d mind getting bigger. Major USA shareholder Vivendi Universal wants to expand in U.S. distribution: Diller’s company, would be the vehicle. It’s got the cash; earlier this year, Diller sold USA’s broadcast stations to Univision for $1.1 billion. Diller has long coveted NBC and would love to get his hands on another cable network or two.

For now, Jackson will focus on bucking up USA net, which is feeling the loss of professional wrestling, and setting a direction for USA Films, a small banner that had a major hit on its hands last year with “Traffic.”

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