SBJ/May 1 - 7, 2006/This Weeks News

Former AOL exec joins fledgling sports net

Carlos Silva, formerly senior vice president for AOL’s news and sports operations, has been named president and COO for the World Championship Sports Network, a move designed to enlarge significantly the presence of the fledgling operation.

Carlos Silva
President, COO, WCSN
“This felt like a good time to get back into something entrepreneurial again,” said Silva, who spent more than seven years at AOL before departing in late March. “I had a great run at AOL, and things there are in a good, stable place. But this is an exciting step. We have some very interesting rights, and it’s all part of an underserved market that we can really begin to aggregate through all of our various platforms.”

WCSN holds distribution rights with nearly two dozen international sports federations, including track and field, swimming, cycling, skiing, and other Olympic sports. It airs events either through online-only efforts or placements on regional sports networks, including YES, Altitude Sports & Entertainment and Comcast SportsNet.

WCSN, however, is perhaps best known in the sports industry for being an object of interest for MLB Advanced Media, which last fall purchased an equity stake in the operation, estimated at 10 percent, and took over management of WCSN’s digital assets. MLBAM will be a key operational influence for WCSN, Silva said.

“We need to bake into the DNA of this operation the notion of a three-legged stool between online, broadcast and mobile and figure out which assets fit best with each leg,” Silva said. “But there are a lot of lessons we can learn from them, putting out some content at little or no cost, selling off that, and also trying to get people excited enough to want to buy in more.”

Silva will develop an interactive studio for WCSN in Bethesda, Md., allowing him to stay in the Washington, D.C., area, while the network remains based in Santa Monica, Calif. His hire came with the assist of one of his former bosses, AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, who fielded a request for candidates for the job from WCSN investor Polaris Venture Partners.

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