SBJ/March 10-16, 2014/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Pete Vlastelica


GENE KIM

Pete
Vlastelica

Company: Fox Sports Media Group
Title: SVP, digital
Age: 36
Where born: Phoenix
Education: Stanford University (B.A.), University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business (MBA)
Career background: Founder and CEO, Yardbarker; business development at Walt Disney Internet Group and at Plumb Design
Family: Wife, Hilary; daughters Vera (5) and Helena (8 months)

Favorite apps: Fox Sports Go, Paper, Snapchat, MOG, Sonos, Instagram.
Favorite way to unwind: Hiking, swimming, good wine, and lounging with my family.
Worst habit: Growing unruly beards.
Cause supported: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Person in the industry I’d most like to meet: Mark Cuban.
I have a fear of … : Becoming disconnected.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Bull riding, in high school, before I valued my own skull.
2014 will be a good year if … : It’s as half as good as 2013 was (new job, new network, new city, new house, new baby).

When Fox Sports early last year promoted Pete Vlastelica to senior vice president of digital, the former Yardbarker co-founder and chief executive came in with an aggressive, six-point battle plan for the year ahead. Among his priorities for 2013 were to align the company’s TV and digital operations, launch a new platform, improve Fox Sports’ digital audience measurement, rework its advertising strategy, bulk up the digital staff, and have some fun in the process. Altogether, it represented a seismic shift for a company that had decent raw reach thanks in part to its partnership with the MSN portal but, by its own admission, was not a digital-first organization.

In retrospect, Vlastelica admits that what was termed as the Fox Sports Digital Gameplan was “a little presumptuous.” But now, 12 months later, Vlastelica has checked off each goal on his list. Fox Sports last summer launched a new FoxSports.com as well as the authenticated Fox Sports Go streaming platform that acts in direct concert with Fox Sports 1 and the company’s broadcast operations and is now firmly part of the TV Everywhere landscape. A new digital leadership team under Vlastelica is in place. And brand marketers have begun to take notice of the new Fox Sports Digital, evidenced in part by the 31 companies purchasing inventory last month during a glitch-free live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII, more than twice the number that bought into last year’s game.

SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

For Vlastelica, the shift has been personal in addition to corporate. He came to Fox Sports when the company purchased Yardbarker in October 2010, and the self-proclaimed digital entrepreneur has had to learn to be more of a traditional media executive along the way.

“I was a startup guy, and I still think of myself as an entrepreneur,”  Vlastelica said.  “I guess I’m morphing into a media executive, but I’m trying to bring the best of both worlds, where we have the risk-taking and aggressiveness of a startup but with the resources and expertise of a big operation like this.”

— Eric Fisher

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