Relentless: Bill Daniels & The Triumph Of Cable TV

Published: 01/01/2003

Bill Daniels had planned on joining his brother in the insurance business in Hobbes,New Mexico, but felt there may have been something more for him, if he could onlyfind it. In 1952, he stumbled into his destiny while eating a sandwich in a Denvertavern, when he saw television for the first time. It was a prizefight carried fromNew York City and he was fascinated that these moving pictures could be transmittedlive into the bar. Would people in small towns around the West pay for a servicelike this, he wondered, if he could figure out how to get it to them?

Daniels soon learned about something called cable TV, which had been invented inthe East. When he put together a strategy and group of partners to bring cable toCasper, Wyoming, he didn’t know that he was laying the foundation for a newindustry — the most significant media business of the last half of the 20thCentury. From these modest roots, his cable enterprise grew and forever changedAmerica’s relationship with sports, politics, entertainment, and the news.Daniels was there, with money and advice, when CNN, ESPN, and other media giantscame into being.

From the start, cable had needed a scrappy, tireless individual, unafraid of a hugefight against long odds and established interests. It had needed a man of personalcharisma, vision, ethics, and imagination, always willing to spend money and takethe struggle right onto the floor of the U.S. Congress. The man who stepped forwardto play this role and become the father of the cable TV industry was Bill Daniels.Companies he eventually owned or shaped employed more than 100,000 people and managedover $2 billion worth of cable deals in a single year. He not only dreamed a hugedream for himself and America but made it come to life — still influencing hiscountry every time we turn on a TV.