SBJ/Jan. 17-23, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Rolapp promotion among moves at NFL

The NFL has made three staffing moves in its senior executive ranks, including naming Brian Rolapp chief operating officer of NFL Media, as the league seeks to further streamline its media and sponsorship businesses.

Rolapp
ALEX GORT SR. / GORT PRODUCTIONS
“Many of our sponsorship deals ... are becoming more infused with content elements, so having this more streamlined structure made a lot of sense,” says NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp
Rolapp, previously senior vice president of digital media and media strategy and a league employee since 2003, will now also assume oversight for revenue generation across all of the league’s media business, including digital media, NFL Network, advertising sales and sponsorship efforts.

Hans Schroeder, with the league since 2001 in a variety of roles, has been promoted to senior vice president of media business development. In addition, Jeff Berman, a former MySpace executive and Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, has been hired as the new general manager of NFL.com.

Berman will be based in Los Angeles and replaces Laura Goldberg, who left late last year and is now the vice president of product for ticketing startup ScoreBig. He will report to Rolapp, as will Schroeder and Keith Turner, senior vice president of media sales and sponsorship.

The shifts arrive as the league’s traditional and digital media and sponsorship sales efforts continue to blur, as exemplified by the $720 million deal signed with Verizon last year. The pact includes both designation for the company as the league’s official wireless partner and rights to stream a variety of content, including NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and the NFL RedZone channel, to mobile devices.

“Before, what our sponsors’ needs were and our media partners’ needs were completely different,” said Rolapp, a member of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily’s Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame. “Now, they’re growing more and more alike all the time. Many of our sponsorship deals, such as a Verizon, are becoming more infused with content elements, so having this more streamlined structure made a lot of sense.”

Steve Bornstein, NFL executive vice president of media, wrote in a memo to league staff that “the media industry has undergone many changes in the last several years, and in order to remain successful, the NFL Media group has evolved along with it.”

Rolapp will remain based in the league’s New York headquarters, reporting to Bornstein. Also reporting to Bornstein will be Kim Williams, NFL Network chief operating officer; Mark Quenzel, recently hired as senior vice president of programming and production; and Howard Katz, senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations and NFL Films chief operating officer.

“It’s getting harder than ever for leagues to manage the interplay among all the various assets, and for the NFL in particular, these are some of the most valuable assets in all of sports,” said Doug Perlman, founder of Sports Media Advisors, a Connecticut-based consultancy that has worked extensively with the NFL. “But these are really smart, really talented guys, and they’ve done a very good job setting themselves up to succeed and navigate that complex landscape.”

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Related Topics:

NFL, Media, Verizon, Forty Under 40

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