SBJ/August 21 - 27, 2006/Media

New MLBAM hire Gersh is ready to grow

THREE QUESTIONS

Kenny Gersh
MLBAM Senior Vice President, Business Development

Gersh
Kenny Gersh recently joined MLB Advanced Media as its new senior vice president, business development. His arrival comes at a pivotal time for baseball’s digital arm.

Gersh, much like his predecessor, George Kliavkoff, who left to become NBC Universal’s chief digital officer, will lead MLBAM’s new media licensing business, a fertile area for growth as wireless, gaming and broadband video all continue to mushroom into large, mainstream businesses.

Gersh, 36, comes to MLBAM from CBS SportsLine.com and CBS Digital Media, where he worked in a variety of roles, including development of a licensed fantasy baseball game and helping with this spring’s March Madness on Demand product for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The following is an abridged transcript of a recent interview with Gersh, conducted prior to MLBAM’s legal defeat in a federal court against CDM Fantasy Sports.

What do you see as the long-term outlook for the fantasy baseball business? What needs to happen to approach the kinds of participation numbers seen in fantasy football? [Between 5 million and 6 million people in the United States play fantasy baseball, and nearly twice that number play fantasy football].

Gersh: I know Bob [Bowman, MLBAM’s CEO] has stated he believes that we’ll be able to grow the business substantially over the next several years by virtue of our new, big partners that have made a sizable monetary commitment to develop exciting new games with wider appeal, including CBS SportsLine, which was a deal I negotiated on behalf of CBS Digital Media. I was glad to see ProTrade and, more recently, Fox-
Sports.com both come on board.

How difficult was MMOD to pull off?

Gersh: There was an amazing team of people at CBS SportsLine that was able to adapt to a numerous amount of internal and external obstacles and make several smart but tough decisions to deliver the outstanding customer experiences that you ultimately saw play out last March. I was very proud of the fact that CBS SportsLine and MLBAM, which historically had been competitors in the sports media space, were able to work together so successfully. We chose MLBAM [to help in a technical capacity] at the time as we believed they were one of only a very small group of companies that had the ability and experience to do what they did for us.

How prepared are you to become something of a music industry executive? [MLBAM operates a partnership with music licensing and marketing group Signatures Network].

Gersh: It’s interesting. I used to be a college rep for [SBK Records, in the late 1980s and early ’90s], and I was helping to promote a lot of their big acts back then: Vanilla Ice, Wilson Phillips, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” soundtrack. I remember seeing a [Mike] Tyson fight with Vanilla Ice, driving some of these other acts around in the back of my car. And there was a time I came very close to having to put the Ninja Turtle costume on, so I’ve done a bit of this before. But it’s going to be fun.

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