Tom Cerio ’76 knows how to keep us all entertained. He knows the programs we like to watch on television and on our digital devices, and he makes the deals that deliver those programs to us.
Cerio is the executive vice president of cable sales at Warner Brothers, which he calls “the biggest studio on the planet and the most prolific when it comes to producing films and television.” He’s responsible for selling all Warner Brothers television programming to cable TV networks and to such digital content providers as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. He also sells Warner Brothers movies to broadcast and cable networks. In recent years he raised the bar for half-hour comedies by selling programs like The Big Bang Theory and Two Broke Girls for record prices. And he built Warner Brothers into the leader in domestic film sales to basic cable.
He got his start in television at Orion Pictures, Disney and HBO, but that was after reinventing himself following jobs in horticulture and jewelry sales. “Going from cutting down trees to licensing television programs is a different road,” he admitted. “But it’s really important to keep an open mind. The University of Rhode Island prepared me in a mixture of disciplines. It kept my mind pretty flexible, and I’ve always been kind of fearless. So I figured ‘why not, let’s give it a shot.’”
He stays connected to his alma mater as a member of the URI Harrington School of Communication and Media advisory board. And this year, he received a 2014 URI Distinguished Achievement Award.