SBJ/December 12-18, 2011/Most Influential

50 Most Influential: 21-30

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21
STEVE
BORNSTEIN

President & CEO, NFL Network

Executive Vice President of Media, NFL

CHANGE FROM 2010: NOT RANKED

How did the NFL convince ESPN to pay an average of nearly $2 billion a year for “Monday Night Football”? How has the league convinced CBS, Fox and NBC to pay an average of $1 billion or more for their NFL packages? Let’s just say there’s a reason why Bornstein is the league’s highest-paid executive, making more than even Commissioner Roger Goodell.

22
MELINDA
WITMER

Executive Vice President
& Chief Programming Officer

Time Warner Cable

CHANGE FROM 2010: +24

Forget about the fact that Witmer is the programming gatekeeper of the cable industry’s second-biggest operator, behind Comcast. Her decisions to set up Time Warner Cable Sports, pick off the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers and agree to launch the Pac-12’s networks are among the boldest moves in sports media.

23
LARRY
SCOTT

Commissioner

Pac-12 Conference

CHANGE FROM 2010: NEWCOMER

Who isn’t talking about the Pac-12 these days? Scott established the roots for the conference’s new TV networks, lured Gary Stevenson across the country, and oversaw the expansion to 12 teams. In the process, he has single-handedly changed the way industry insiders look at college conferences and their commissioners.

24
CASEY
WASSERMAN

Chairman & CEO

Wasserman Media Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: NO CHANGE

This gifted relationship builder can call on his friendships at the highest levels of politics, sports, film, music, entertainment and philanthropy to make introductions, foster ideas and close deals. It’s that influence — beyond growing his Wasserman Media Group agency and his pursuit of the NFL in Los Angeles — that has him on the call list of every major executive in sports.

25
JOHN
HENRY

Owner

Fenway Sports Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: +1

It was obviously a September to forget for the Red Sox, but the Fenway sports empire and Liverpool FC remain important and highly watched industry pillars. Even LeBron James looked to FSG this year for brand elevation.

26
ADAM
SILVER

Deputy Commissioner

NBA

CHANGE FROM 2010: +1

Silver took a lead role in the NBA’s labor negotiations as Commissioner David Stern continues to give his heir apparent more power. The growing influence is seen not just in labor issues but also in all of the league’s key business strategies.

27
TIM
BROSNAN

Executive Vice President, Business

Major League Baseball

CHANGE FROM 2010: +1

With baseball’s business operations continuing an extended upswing in 2011, Brosnan pushed ahead in new directions, helping put the sport more squarely in the social media and pop culture landscapes with the successful MLB Fan Cave effort.

28
DEREK
CHANG

Executive Vice President,
Content Strategy & Development

DirecTV

CHANGE FROM 2010: NEWCOMER

Chang took the lead on DirecTV’s biggest programming disputes this year, with Fox, Golf Channel and YES Network. But it was DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket promotion that really worked, helping the satellite operator gain 327,000 subscribers in the third quarter, blowing away analyst expectations.

29
MARK
EMMERT

President

NCAA

CHANGE FROM 2010: +3

In his first full year as head of the NCAA, Emmert seemed to find his footing. He used his influence to take on tough topics like pay-for-play, the NCAA’s overly officious rule book and even tougher academic eligibility requirements, but his drawback remains the lack of a position on the postseason football argument.

30
DON
GARBER

Commissioner

Major League Soccer

CHANGE FROM 2010: +4

A decade ago, Major League Soccer was struggling. Today the league’s legitimacy is inarguable, with a nationwide footprint, average attendance that surpasses both the NBA and NHL, and a new TV deal with NBC. Garber has led the charge, and his next task is to solidify stadium plans in New York City for a 20th team.

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