SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/Careerspeople

Spotlight: George Kliavkoff

Name: George Kliavkoff
Age: 36
Title: Senior vice president, business development, Major League Baseball Advanced Media
College: University of Virginia School of Law (1993), doctor of jurisprudence; Boston University (1989), bachelor of science, journalism
Resides: Seattle
Grew up: Scarsdale, N.Y.
Previous job: Business Development Consumer Division,RealNetworks
Family: Wife, Ellen; daughter, Delaney, and son, Henry
Favorite movie: "The Shawshank Redemption"
Last book read: "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell
CDs he listens to most: Anything by Elvis Costello

MLB's off-season is a time for partners to discuss business, and George Kliavkoff is at the epicenter of negotiations.

Kliavkoff joins Major League Baseball Advanced Media LP, the new-media and Internet company of MLB, as the senior vice president of business development. He will oversee all business deals, including licensing technology and online, mobile and international distribution of MLBAM's products.

In 4½ years at RealNetworks, Kliavkoff helped create the company's online media subscription services and negotiated deals to distribute them.

What is the biggest challenge of your new position?
It is going to be managing deal flow because of all of the partners that want to do deals with MLB Advanced Media. I think we're going to have a lot of deals coming our way, and we only have 100 days left. We're going to have to get a lot of deals done in a short amount of time.

Also, as more people have more access to the Internet and as wireless nets are upgraded to support video, there is the promise that consumers can access any content they want, irrespective of where they are physically. To be able to do that with the company that I believe is leading the way, I think is going to be a great challenge for me.

What are your strengths?
I'm certain that one of my strengths is developing a base-line partnership with my partners first, and then I move forward in building a relationship. I think as you get to be known in the industry, you tend to hear about opportunities before other people hear them, and you tend to figure out complex deals with people that you have a good relationship with.

Also, I'm uniquely positioned for my new role because my very good friends are the folks that have my exact job with many of the other sports. Most people would not know their counterparts at the other leagues, and I think that puts me on the other side of the table.

What areas do you want to improve in?
I think I'm impatient about the development of digital media. I'd like to see everything happen as soon as possible, but the speed at which some of our partners have to move is sometimes frustrating. It's just a matter of calling on my patience and trying to work through it.

What are two things you wish you could change about the sports business?
One immediately jumps to mind. It's a fantasy, but I'd love it if the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA championship, the Stanley Cup — all of sports' best events — could be played in arenas that would seat 2 million people. It's just such a special thing to be there in person and to experience it.

The other thing is if the speed by which we could allow people who can't attend those events in person, to sort of get a sense of what it's all like, if that were increased, so that more people would have more access to that content quicker.

What is your career advice?
First thing is to not worry about the money or responsibility. Focus on what you love to do and work hard at it. It's guaranteed that everything else will fall into place.

When you're not working, what do you do in your spare time?
My hobby is to restore old wooden boats. One reason to restore them is take them out on the water here in Seattle. And, I love spending time with my family.

Alisha Puckett is research associate for The Sports Business Daily, an affiliated publication.

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Baseball, MLB

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