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Published March 20, 2006
By Eric Fisher
• Age: 34
• Title: Head of sports and entertainment
• Company: Yahoo!
• Education: B.S., economics, University of Pennsylvania, 1994; master’s degree, management studies, Cambridge University, 1995
• Family: Single
• Career: Began career as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. in 1995; joined CBS in 1997 as director, strategic management, eventually being promoted to senior vice president, strategic planning and interactive ventures; named to current position in July 2005.
• Last vacation: Australia and Fiji
• Last book read: “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt
• Last movie seen: “Munich”
• Greatest disappointment: The Steelers winning Super Bowl XL
• Fantasy job: Owner of the Baltimore Ravens
• Executive most admired: Michael Dell. Using his entrepreneurial zeal, he took on the entrenched, well-funded establishment and in the process transformed an industry.
• Business advice: Fail to prepare … prepare to fail.
David Katz, head of sports and entertainment for Yahoo! Media Group, has little use for the ramp-up times and lengthy internal studies commonly associated with new jobs.
Just eight months into his new post, Katz has made one sweeping move after another attempting to rebrand and re-engineer the popular search engine and fantasy sports site into a premier destination for original content.
Katz quickly landed a series of expert analysts, including Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn; overhauled the site's Winter Olympics coverage; and earlier this year landed his biggest fish of all, Los Angeles Times deputy sports editor Dave Morgan to manage Yahoo!'s sports editorial content. The heir apparent to run one of America's top sports sections, Morgan instead chose Yahoo!, sending shockwaves through the media industry.
Perhaps even more striking, Katz is competing in the battlefield of online sports media without the promotional and content assistance of a traditional media property within the company, unlike key rivals ESPN, CBS SportsLine.com, FoxSports.com and The Sporting News.
"The power of the Yahoo! network is something I relish," Katz said. "There is definitely a real power in what we're doing. We're after no less than creating the ultimate sports fan community."
Katz arrived at Yahoo! at a dramatic crossroad as content sources such as the Associated Press, which formed Yahoo!'s original identity as a news aggregator, are now openly questioning whether Yahoo!'s huge traffic counts are still necessary to their business models. That tension only heightens Katz's need to generate original content, but he has spent his entire career trying to push boundaries online.
Joining CBS in 1997, Katz quickly went to work producing CBS's Web site, which became the most popular Internet destination among the major TV networks. Moving far beyond brochure-ware, Katz produced Internet talk shows for "Survivor" and "Big Brother," developed interactive games around the "CSI" dynasty of shows, and created an online subscription video service for extra content from "Big Brother." Katz also played a key role in getting live streams of the NCAA basketball tournament online in 2003, content now so popular that CBS recently decided to waive the subscription fee and offer it for free.
Katz has kept his ties to CBS strong, recently partnering with the network to stream replays of CBS comedies on Yahoo!, a move that ultimately could lead to deals with TV studios to produce original video content. A second step in that direction came in another recent, Katz-created deal in which TV watchers can program their TiVo anywhere through Yahoo!
"There's certainly a lot of talk out there about wireless," Katz said. "But I still feel the biggest upside is still very much with broadband Internet and the PC. There's a lot to mine there, and we're going to do it."