The 2020 Hot List: Honoring the Year’s Best in TV, Publishing, Digital and Brands

Adweek recognizes the standout people, platforms, creators and companies in an unprecedented year

Hot List
The Hot List has been expanded this year to include a fourth section: brands. Adweek
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When the pandemic forced us all to begin sheltering in place in March, we leaned on TV, publishing and digital brands more than ever before to connect us with the outside world. So it’s no surprise that Adweek’s annual Hot List, which always honors the best in those three categories, is full of people and brands who were at their best when so many things seemed at their worst.

Take Adweek’s Media Visionary Reese Witherspoon, who has turned Hollywood on its head by creating a successful media company, Hello Sunshine, focused on female-centric stories—for a variety of platforms.  

Our TV Creator of the Year, Jon Favreau, helped get Disney+ off to a hot start with The Mandalorian, while TV Executive of the Year, TLC president Howard Lee, showed that linear networks still have plenty of fight in them.

Digital Creator of the Year Sarah Cooper turned her popular President Trump lip-syncs on TikTok and Twitter into a Netflix comedy special, and Digital Executive of the Year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, is helping lead the charge against lies and hate speech on social media.

Our Publishing Executives of the Year—Substack co-founders Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best and Jairaj Sethi—are reinvigorating a flagging industry, while Editor of the Year Jeffrey Goldberg deftly grew The Atlantic’s subscriber base during the pandemic while breaking national news of his own.

We’ve also added new categories to spotlight during this unprecedented year, including Hottest Pandemic Pivot, and have expanded the Hot List to include a fourth section: brands.

Here are all of this year’s Hot List honorees:

Adweek Media Visionary: How Reese Witherspoon Turned Hollywood on Its Head // Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Is on a Hot Streak

TV Hot List: The Year’s Biggest and Buzziest Shows, Networks and People

TV Creator of the Year: Jon Favreau’s First-Ever TV Series Made Disney+ an Instant Streaming Powerhouse

TV Executive of the Year: As TLC’s Cable Rivals Struggle, Chief Howard Lee Brings in Record Ratings

Game Changer of the Year: The Only Thing That Scares Lovecraft Country Creator Misha Green Is Playing It Safe 

Publishing Hot List: The Print and Media Brands Rising to Covid-19’s Challenges

Publishing Executives of the Year: Media Newsletters Are Booming, and Substack’s Co-Founders Lit the Fuse

Publishing Editor of the Year: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg Deftly Captains His Team While Breaking Explosive News

Digital Hot List: Platforms and Innovators That Kept Us Connected During Covid

Digital Executive of the Year: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Leads the Charge Against Lies and Hate Speech on Social Media

Digital Creator of the Year: Sarah Cooper’s Trump Lip-Syncs Turned Pandemic Boredom Into a Career Catapult

Brands Hot List: The Companies and People That Boldly Stood Out in a Trying Year

This story first appeared in the Oct. 26, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
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