No. 18: Cablevision

Bethpage, NY

Revenue: $4.072 billion

Cash flow: $942.7 million

Several years ago, Apple Computer gambled the company on the iMac and won big. Cablevision Systems hopes to repeat that bit of history with its digital set-tops.

The project is so crucial to Cablevision that CEO James Dolan asked his father, cable icon Charles Dolan, to head up the rollout of the project in which customers will get access to video-on-demand and other advanced services through the Sony set-tops.

In May, the younger Dolan predicted that — after several delays — Cablevision would place set-tops into 50,000 homes by year’s end and 500,000 by the end of 2002.

“We are confident that we will have exciting, state-of-the-art digital to our customers within the next six months,” he told analysts.

Cablevision has been installing 7,600 cable modems a week and reached 13% penetration in the first quarter.

On the management side, Cablevision reorganized its marketing and programming departments for the third time since 1998 when it shifted Joe Azznara from overseeing all of its New York operations to heading its burgeoning telecom sector. The younger Dolan assumed the other duties.

On the programming side, Cablevision spun its Rainbow Media arm off as a tracking stock in March and MGM in April bought 20% of Rainbow’s four cable networks for $825 million.

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