• ESPN agrees to buy stake in DraftKings

    The stakes in daily fantasy keep getting bigger.

    DraftKings is close to getting significant financial backing from arguably the most powerful brand in sports: ESPN.

    Industry sources said ESPN has agreed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars for up to a 20 percent stake in DraftKings. The major investment will be part of the daily fantasy sports operator’s next round of venture capital financing in May.

    As part of the deal, DraftKings will sign a three-year advertising commitment that will, in turn, pay hundreds of millions back to ESPN, sources said. The ad commitment will give DraftKings exclusive status on much of ESPN’s fantasy content across all of the company’s media platforms, including fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry’s columns and podcasts.

    ESPN and DraftKings declined to comment. Last month, DraftKings Chief Executive Jason Robins said he was actively developing a Series D venture round that would value the company at $1 billion. ESPN’s investment could increase that, and 10-figure valuations are generally reserved for only the hottest of startups.

    Robins spoke to SportsBusiness Journal last month about the developing investment talks, saying, “We’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next … this space presents a huge amount of opportunities. We’re not only changing how fantasy is played, but more fundamentally, how fans engage with sports.”

    Neither DraftKings nor its chief rival FanDuel have turned a profit. Armed with capital, a battle for official team and league affiliations has raged over the past year, and each now holds dozens of such relationships. The NHL and MLB Advanced Media each are aligned with DraftKings, and the NBA last fall took an equity position and a board seat with FanDuel.

    In that scrum for partnerships, ESPN remained a holdout, though it is one of the largest and most prominent players in traditional fantasy sports. Given ESPN’s expansive reach, a formal alignment represents a major win for Boston-based DraftKings.

    “An affiliation with ESPN is industry redefining,” said Geoff Reiss, a former ESPN executive who was in a similar position two decades ago when ESPN parent Disney bought Starwave, which became ESPN.com. “ESPN represents the largest and most consistent promotional platform in sports for daily fantasy. The only other kingmaker as far as this industry goes is the NFL.”

    Industry sources said ESPN elected to buy into DraftKings after a “bake-off” in which executives for both DraftKings and FanDuel pitched their companies and their business prospects to senior ESPN executives, including President John Skipper.

    Among the key factors elevating Draft-Kings in the minds of ESPN executives was its less cluttered and conflicting ownership structure. DraftKings’ last round of financing, a $41 million Series C last summer, was led by venture capital groups such as The Raine Group and prior investors such as Atlas Venture and Redpoint Ventures. FanDuel, by comparison, already has media partners among its investor group as Comcast Ventures and NBC Sports Ventures participated in its $70 million Series D that closed in September, and Rick Cordella, NBC Sports Group senior vice president of digital media, is a board observer for the company.

    Earlier this year, an ESPN group led by John Kosner, executive vice president of digital and print media, was charged with figuring out how ESPN could participate in daily fantasy, which has seen meteoric growth over the past year. Kosner’s team considered multiple options, including launching its own rival daily fantasy operation and an equity investment. That study reached the highest levels of ESPN parent Walt Disney Co., which presented some issues given Disney’s long-standing opposition to gambling.

    But daily fantasy operators, and the fantasy sports industry at large, have sought to create clear distinctions between gambling and daily fantasy, including the discouragement of marketing through overt gambling-style terms such as “rake.” And the runaway growth of daily fantasy — DraftKings alone is projecting to increase its revenue fivefold this year to $150 million — has proved too much to ignore.

    Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

    Tags: ESPN, ING, GE, CES, Media, ATT, Ping, And 1, GMAC, UPS, NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, Comcast Corp., NBC, Dell, Walt Disney
  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: What they like to read

    We asked each of the 40:

    What is a book you would recommend?

    Here are their responses.


    Michael Allen: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson

    Chris Allphin: For practical purposes, “Presentation Zen,” by Garr Reynolds; easy way to make a massive change in the way you communicate. And for life-changing inspiration, “Where Men Win Glory,” by Jon Krakauer.

    Renie Anderson: “Bossypants,” by Tina Fey

    Lyle Ayes: “The Art of Fielding,” by Chad Harbach

    Nick Baker: “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead,” by Jerry Weintraub

    Tom Brady: Two that I recommend consistently are “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen,” by Christopher McDougall; and “Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II,” by Robert Kurson.

    Sashi Brown: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins

    Nicholas Carey: Anything by Michael Lewis, whether it’s “The Blind Side,” “Liar’s Poker” or “Moneyball.”

    Justin Connolly: “John Adams,” by David McCollough

    Juan Delgado: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” by Ben Horowitz

    Ray DeWeese: “The Seven Storey Mountain,” by Thomas Merton

    Jennifer Duberstein: “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein. (Even for adults, it echoes a good lesson.)

    Janet Duch: “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee

    Rosalyn Durant: “The Survivors Club,” by Ben Sherwood

    Colin Faulkner: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey

    Tom Griffiths: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey

    Eric Guthoff: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins; and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss

    Flavil Hampsten: “The Perfect SalesForce” by Derek Gatehouse, or “Who Moved My Cheese?,” by Spencer Johnson

    Seth Jacobs: “The Book of Basketball,” by Bill Simmons, for a sports book; “East of Eden,” by John Steinbeck, for a classic

    Dave Kaval: “Grinding it Out” — the autobiography of Ray Kroc

    Chris Klein: “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel James Brown

    AJ Maestas: “Freakonomics,” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

    Paraag Marathe: “The Namesake,” by Jhumpa Lahiri; a great book about growing up in an immigrant family.

    Chris Marinak: “As They See ’Em,” by Bruce Weber (about life as an MLB umpire).

    Stephen McArdle: “Permission to Parent,” by Robin Berman, for figuring out how to raise a toddler for the first time; “The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, for a book that I can pick up no matter how many times I’ve read it.

    Scott Milleisen: “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” by Chris Hadfield

    Dan Reed: Before you watch the next season of “Game of Thrones,” read the “Song of Ice and Fire” books by George R.R. Martin. They’re fantastic and better than the show. (As a shorter alternative: “The Bone Clocks,” by David Mitchell.)

    Jason Robins: “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus

    Frank Saviano: “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”

    André Schunk: “Catch 22,” by Joseph Heller

    Chad Seigler: “I Feel Great,” by Pat Croce

    Dan Shell: John Feinstein’s “The Last Amateurs” or Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”

    Brad Sims: Anything by Michael Lewis; not just his sports books (“Moneyball,” “The Blind Side”), but I also love his books on the economy and Wall Street (“Liar’s Poker,” “The Big Short,” “Boomerang,” “Flash Boys”).  

    Jared Smith: “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek

    Teri Patterson Smith: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson

    Meredith Starkey: “Lincoln,” by Gore Vidal

    Mike Tomon: “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell

    Danny Townsend: “One Crowded Hour,” by Tim Bowden

    Jennifer van Dijk: “The 48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene

    Nicole Jeter West: “Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive,” by T.D. Jakes

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • TV Timeout: Business Partners

    Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank, on the company’s ties with the Ravens following the Ray Rice domestic-violence scandal: “We are dear partners with the Ravens here in our backyard. It’s an incredibly important institution here in the city of Baltimore. But we’re also aware there were some things that didn’t go right, and I think the NFL is taking some steps to arrest that, and I’m very fortunate that we have a company that will have partners like the Ravens and the NFL standing next to us if we ever needed them as well” (“Jim Rome on Showtime,” Showtime, 4/1).

    ROUSING OVATION: UFC fighter Daniel Cormier, on Ronda Rousey’s stardom: “She's a humongous star. As I’ve texted (UFC President Dana White) during the week and I said, ‘Ronda has eclipsed anything that anyone could have ever thought that she would be in the sport'” (“UFC Tonight,” FS1, 4/1).

    RISE UP: KPMG Chair & CEO John Veihmeyer said of the company’s new ad campaign featuring golfers Stacy Lewis and Phil Mickelson, “The message of the ad, and there's a couple of different ads, is really consistent with the message of the overall effort around the WPGA Championship which is to elevate women’s golf onto a stage that’s comparable to men’s golf” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/1).

    SIGN OF THE TIMES: Golf Channel’s Lisa Cornwell said of LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan signing a six-year contract extension, “There's so much positive energy with the LPGA Tour, not just from the players and the fans, but the staff, from the media. This is such a great get. There was real concern … some major organization was going to come try to snag him. When you look at the success that he’s had it made perfect sense” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/1).

    FIGHT NIGHT
    : FS1’s Ariel Helwani said of New York’s MMA ban, “It’s been political nonsense for so long. It’s been breaking my heart. I get so excited every year, I think it is going to happen and it just becomes a tease” (“UFC Tonight,” FS1, 4/1).

    CHECKS AND BALANCES: NFL free agent OLB Dwight Freeney, on suing Bank of America: “I didn’t want to be another statistic, another athlete doing a bad thing not putting their money where they need to put their money in a safe place. Bank of America recruited me (and) I trusted the bank” (“Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo,” Fox Business, 4/1).

  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: Let’s have a party

    We asked each of the 40:

    If you could build your ultimate tailgate, who would be in that dream group of people at the tailgate with you?

    Here are their responses.

    Michael Allen: We would need representation from each of my favorite childhood teams: Drazen Petrovic (Nets), Don Mattingly (Yankees), Bill Parcells (N.Y. Giants) and Larry Johnson (UNLV), and I would throw in Larry David for comic relief.

    Chris Allphin: My first instinct was to name some of my sports idols: Steve Young, Terry Steinbach, Joe Thornton, etc. But upon consideration, we’re talking about a tailgate party. I think having fun trumps being starstruck, so I’d probably take five or six of my best friends from high school. We all still keep in touch, and we’re guaranteed a good time. Maybe add Matt Leinart just to be safe.

    Renie Anderson: I would combine all my best friends from growing up in Kentucky and those I now have as an adult along with my family. They are all hilarious and would hit it off. It would be a tailgate full of shenanigans and belly-aching laughter. Kentucky meets NYC: It would be perfect.

    Lyle Ayes: The cast of “Entourage,” Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and probably Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb for kicks.

    Nick Baker: My family, of course; buddies from Denver; ASU crew; and a collection of characters from Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, John Elway, Alan and Baby Carlos from “The Hangover” movie, Warren Buffett — and maybe a doctor for safety purposes.

    Tom Brady: Making the assumption that they would all be sports fans (and that I can span decades), I’d want to learn, debate and have fun. Here it goes: Jim Brown, Tom Colicchio, Lewis & Clark, Bono & The Edge, Queen Elizabeth, Tina Fey, Spike Lee, Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, George Patton, Teddy Roosevelt, and my mother — because she always did a brilliant job getting everyone talking at parties.

    Sashi Brown: Jim Brown, Gregg Popovich, Bill Walsh, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan.

    Nicholas Carey: My father, Arnold Palmer, Will Ferrell and a few buddies.

    Justin Connolly: A mix of friends from high school, college and graduate school.

    Juan Delgado: I’m not really into celebrities — I think they’d be uncomfortable, as would I — so, my best buddies from college, and two of my current colleagues, Rich Routman and Oliver Slipper.

    Ray DeWeese: My wife, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and my staff.

    Jennifer Duberstein: My CAA Sports colleagues.

    Janet Duch: Current family and friends.

    Rosalyn Durant: George Rogers, Darius Rucker and other passionate Gamecock fans.

    Colin Faulkner: Rob Manfred, Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, Gary Bettman and Don Garber.

    Tom Griffiths: My high school buddies, girlfriend, LeBron, Shaq, Peyton Manning, Michael Strahan, Dave Grohl, Tony Robbins and Will Ferrell.

    Eric Guthoff: The GlideSlope team, along with my family and friends.

    Flavil Hampsten: I’d have a few of my favorite athletes/artists/actors and some of my good friends. A cross-section of this would be: LeBron James, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughn, Hulk Hogan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay-Z and Kate Upton.

    Seth Jacobs: Some core friends, Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Eddie Vedder, and maybe a few others.

    Dave Kaval: My family, close friends — and Charles Barkley.

    Chris Klein: My family.

    AJ Maestas: My family. I don’t get to see them often given the distance and pain of getting to Alaska. My brothers in particular are fun, funny and love football; one even played at UW. This would obviously take place at Husky Stadium or the Rose Bowl.

    Paraag Marathe: My family and friends; people I care about.

    Chris Marinak: Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett.

    Stephen McArdle: David Chang for the food and drinks; a Southern rock cover band for the music; my UVA tailgating buddies so we can forget for a day that we’re almost 40; and my wife and sons so I can start the UVA brainwashing early.

    Scott Milleisen: Bono, Stephen Colbert, Peyton Manning and my wife — who adores Bono, Stephen Colbert and Peyton Manning.

    Dan Reed: Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, Bill Simmons, Dave Chappelle and Harvey Reed (my dad).

    Jason Robins: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Vince Lombardi, Babe Ruth, Gordie Howe, Wilt Chamberlain, Sandy Koufax, Carlos Slim, Jonathan Kraft, and my best friends and family.

    Frank Saviano: The 1986 New York Mets, the original “SNL” cast, and my friends; should be guaranteed entertainment.

    André Schunk: My wife, Sarah; Jerry Seinfeld; Jon Stewart; Dirk Nowitzki; Roger Federer; Pelé; Bo Jackson; and Michelle Obama

    Chad Seigler: My wife, Kelly; George W. Bush; Jimmy Buffett; Dale Earnhardt Jr.; and Blake Shelton.

    Dan Shell: Definitely my siblings and their families, since we aren’t all together often. From there, probably just some of my close friends and the mentors I have been lucky to have in my career. Then just throw in Clayton Kershaw maybe.

    Brad Sims: The best party I’ve ever been to, by far, was my wedding. I would invite everyone who was at my wedding to this tailgate and try to recreate that day, which was the best day of my life. My friends and family are extremely important to me, and if I could only choose one group to be with, that would be it.

    Jared Smith: Harry Carey (I’m a lifelong Cubs fan), Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer, Stephen Hawking, Hayden Fry and Eddie Vedder.

    Teri Patterson Smith: My husband, my parents, my brother and Oprah Winfrey.

    Meredith Starkey: Friends, family and Clemson University football legends.

    Mike Tomon: Family, college roommates, Plato, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn, Sugar Ray Leonard, John Coltrane, any member of the Navy Seals, Black Crowes, Kobayashi, Coach Chuck Kyle, and Jay-Z.

    Danny Townsend: My wife and two daughters. They never come to sporting events with me, so if I could get them to the tailgate, it would be a treat!

    Jennifer van Dijk: The five girls from Mount Holyoke that I didn’t miss a minute with in college and who have now spread all across the country.

    Nicole Jeter West: Family and close friends.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • TV Timeout: Silent Treatment

    ESPN’s Jason Whitlock said of the Indiana religious freedom law, “You hear that silence? That’s silence from current athletes all over the country who have said nothing about this” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/31). ESPN’s Howard Bryant said, “The entire country is hitting a critical mass on these issues and when you look at sports leagues especially … that I don’t think they’re going to be able to stand on the sidelines, especially when their players aren’t standing on the sidelines” (“Olbermann,” ESPN2, 3/31). CSNBAYAREA.com’s Ray Ratto said of the law’s impact on sports leagues, “This creates a public relations problem for them that I think they had already thought they had put behind them” (“Yahoo Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 3/31).

    FLIGHT PATTERN: PFT’s Mike Florio, on Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff’s role in the team’s front office: “Dimitroff still has some authority, but not nearly what he used to have. Now it’s going to be about building consensus, getting everyone on the same page and trying to keep it all together from a big picture standpoint” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/31).

    PUNCH DRUNK: MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said of fans being able to buy hard alcohol at Citizens Bank Park, “They’re an angry scene already and now you’re going to add alcohol? I used to go into the Vet and they led the league in fights. … I don’t know if this is a great idea” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 3/31).

    KRAFT WORKS: PFT’s Florio, on Patriots Owner Robert Kraft testifying at the trial of former NFLer Aaron Hernandez: “On a day when we saw wall to wall network coverage on ESPN and NFL Network of the Jameis Winston throw-the-football in t-shirt and shorts pro-day workout, the testimony of an NFL owner in a murder trial was largely ignored” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/31). ESPN’s Whitlock: “I feel bad for Bob Kraft. Who thought being an owner would put you in the middle of a murder trial?” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/31).

    RUSH HOUR: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said of Knicks President Phil Jackson having a plan in place to improve the last-place Knicks, “Well that makes me run out and want to buy the most expensive ticket prices in the NBA” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/31). ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said of the video Jackson sent to season-ticket holders asking for their support, “It’s ridiculous, absolutely asinine. Nobody in New York should buy anything (from) the New York Knicks right now” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/31).

    MONEY MEN: FS1’s Petros Papadakis said of MLB salaries averaging more than $4M in ‘15, “God bless America and that great baseball union that’s so old” (“Fox Sports Live Countdown,” FS1, 3/31).

  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: Advice to students

    We asked each of the 40:

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    Here are their responses.


    Michael Allen: Opportunities are earned, not given.

    Chris Allphin: Networking for the sake of networking is transparent and annoying. Make real, genuine connections to people by asking them questions, caring about their responses, and following up regularly — all while not expecting anything in return.

    Renie Anderson: Find something you are passionate about and become an expert in that craft. You can apply that expertise to any industry; added bonus if it is sports.

    Lyle Ayes: Make sure you have a true passion for the “business” of sports and not simply playing/watching sports. Very few of us are going to be the point guard of the Knicks or the quarterback of the Giants.

    Nick Baker: Find a way to get your foot in the door but make certain it is the door you want to enter, and then take full advantage of all learning experiences, good and bad, and become indispensable. Focus on opportunity and learning more than money and title while finding great mentors.

    Tom Brady: Never say in an interview, “I want to work here because I really love sports.” Yeah, you and millions of others like you. Have a point of view, truly do your homework on every bit of the company that interests you, and explain how your story/experience provides a unique point of view to the company.

    Sashi Brown: Don’t go to law school if you want to work in sports; not enough jobs. You’re overqualified and probably over indebted.

    Nicholas Carey: Get your foot in the door somewhere. That’s the most important thing. From there, just be creative, listen to smart people, and work like hell.

    Justin Connolly: Take any job available, prove yourself, and then build a path to where you want to be.

    Juan Delgado: Make up your mind and focus on either being a seller, buyer or content producer — the only three jobs in this industry.

    Ray DeWeese: Your first couple of jobs will be for low pay and a lot of hours. You will do all of the jobs that no one else wants to do, but you will learn how the business works. Volunteer for more hours and build your network. You will look back on it, if you stay through the weeding-out years, and think of that time as some of the best you had.

    Jennifer Duberstein: Be confident. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

    Janet Duch: Work with people you like, in a field you are passionate about, and volunteer for projects above your job responsibilities.

    Rosalyn Durant: Apply at ESPN (if they’re great)!

    Colin Faulkner: Get your foot in the door by being willing to work a lot for not very much.

    Tom Griffiths: Differentiate yourself by showing entrepreneurial initiative from an early age; start something by identifying a problem, create a smart solution, then find customers to validate it. Once you have that differentiation, don’t be shy in reaching out to execs or company founders to tell them about it and that you want an internship. They’ll listen if you’ve proven yourself as different.

    Eric Guthoff: Find the ways that you are unique and communicate them.

    Flavil Hampsten: Get as many internships as you can and make sure that at least one is in ticket sales.

    Seth Jacobs: Be hungry, be aggressive and build your network.

    Dave Kaval: Follow your passion.

    Chris Klein: Work in a sport that you have a passion for.

    AJ Maestas: Spend 40 percent of your time networking; 40 percent of your time doing internships; and 20 percent in the classroom.

    Paraag Marathe: Don’t just ask for a job or an internship. Solve a specific problem that clubs are dealing with, and then reach out to folks in the industry by showing them your solution.

    Chris Marinak: Develop a unique skill or set of experiences that separates you from the pack.

    Stephen McArdle: Be creative and open to different paths into sports. The range of industries intersecting with sports — be it media, technology, sponsorship, finance, advertising or legal — is expanding every day. Narrowing a job search to only team or league positions unnecessarily closes a lot of doors leading to this industry.

    Scott Milleisen: Focus on creating a skill set and network — which will prepare you to be a leader in your respective field or profession, whether it is marketing, finance, law or media. And then, find a way to marry those skills with your passion for sports.

    Dan Reed: Understand that it is an industry and understand how companies make money in sports. It’s not enough to just be a fan and have passion.

    Jason Robins: Try to figure out a way to disrupt the way things have traditionally been done. Sports have been around in some form since the beginning of time, yet there is innovation and change that is continuing to occur today. That’s the great thing about sports: There’s always something new and amazing happening.

    Frank Saviano: For law students hoping to work in “sports law,” seek out the field within the law that interests you first (e.g., corporate, litigation, labor), become well trained in that field, and then apply that expertise to the sports industry.

    André Schunk: Make sure you learn how to write well.

    Chad Seigler: Build your network early; be willing to do anything to get started; and, most importantly, make your friends before you need them.

    Dan Shell: Find a specialization and develop a skill set that interests you, and then apply it to work it sports — not the other way around.

    Brad Sims: 1. Be open; 2. Be mobile; 3. Be social. Be open: to all kinds of opportunities. The minor leagues are a great place to get a start and hone your work ethic. There are more jobs in sales than anywhere else. Be mobile: The universe of opportunities is much larger if you’re willing to live anywhere. I’ve genuinely enjoyed living everywhere that I have lived throughout my career. It’s all what you make out of it. Be social: It’s not just what you know but who you know. The sports industry is small. Keep in touch with people. When I was coming up, I hand-wrote hundreds of holiday cards each year to just about everyone I had met in the industry.

    Jared Smith: It’s a business where there’s a line of people out the door willing to take your job. Get in and pay your dues and be willing to take what they give you and go where they ask you.

    Teri Patterson Smith: Think broadly and creatively. Don’t confine industry aspirations to just teams and leagues.

    Meredith Starkey: Be willing to work long hours for low pay and have a passion for the industry that won’t quit.

    Mike Tomon: Be as specific as you can be when identifying what you’re most passionate about in business, and then pursue it with everything you have.

    Danny Townsend: You may not earn as much money as you might in other sectors but you will enjoy your working life, and you can’t put a price on that.

    Jennifer van Dijk: Be proactive and follow your curiosity. You will be successful with these two things.

    Nicole Jeter West: Be humble; get your foot in the door through sales, game-night staff or grassroots marketing; and give 110 percent. Be consistent, reliable and a solution-provider. Learn how to manage up; it’s a valuable skill.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: Industry challenges

    We asked each of the 40:

    What is the biggest challenge facing the sports industry in 2015?

    Here are their responses.


    Michael Allen: The shift of the mobile device from the “second screen” to the “first screen” and how that has fundamentally changed the way in which fans consume sports content.

    Chris Allphin: The live event improving as fast as the broadcast product.

    Renie Anderson: Retaining and growing fan avidity and drawing big audiences within a fracturing media environment.

    Lyle Ayes: Convincing fans that the at-home experience is not a substitute for the in-stadium/arena experience.

    Nick Baker: The impact of fantasy sports and potential legalized gambling in the United States.

    Tom Brady: Ensuring, more than ever, that the athletes of our great sports know and embrace the fact that they are role models for younger generations. It seems more important than ever, and so much good can come of it.

    Sashi Brown: The ability of teams to truly connect with their fans directly given all the entry points now.

    Nicholas Carey: The increasingly fragmented media landscape and the ongoing competition for the sports consumer’s time, attention and disposable income.

    Justin Connolly: Effectively using consumer data to increase the amount of time fans consume sports content.

    Juan Delgado: The threat of more content going over the top. Not that this will impact the incumbents in 2015, but the decisions and bets they make this year will be critical.

    Ray DeWeese: Growing rights fees and deals that create a wobble in the marketplace. The balance of local, regional, national and international market cap will continue to be stretched.

    Jennifer Duberstein: The impact of technology on how we distribute our product to the fans and, in turn, how the fans are able to consume it.

    Janet Duch: The evolution of the season-ticket product and finding the unique angle for fan communication among all the numerous social platforms.

    Rosalyn Durant: To continue to surprise and excite fans while maintaining their trust.

    Colin Faulkner: Sports betting and gaming, and how the leagues are going to handle that. The daily fantasy thing is interesting to me. At its core, the integrity of the game is so important; that’s the foundation for our games. But on the other side, you’re trying to continue to drive interest. Those things get people to pay attention to the games.

    Tom Griffiths: Declining stadium attendance rates.

    Eric Guthoff: Fans are now in control of how they consume and interact with sport. Rights holders and brands must keep this top of mind as they build their marketing plans.

    Flavil Hampsten: The cost of attending a live sporting event. Between tickets and the consistently increasing prices of food and beverage, teams need to be more creative to get people to attend while still generating revenue.

    Seth Jacobs: Social media. It can be such a positive tool but it can also lead to an increasingly negative and divisive public sentiment.

    Dave Kaval: Pricing out the passionate fan.

    Chris Klein: Keeping up with the constant technology changes.

    AJ Maestas: Figuring where TV fits into a changing media landscape.

    Paraag Marathe: Integrating technology and innovation into the experience of attending games.

    Chris Marinak: The evolution of the cable TV model.

    Stephen McArdle: Striking the right balance between traditional content distribution and emerging OTT and direct-to-consumer alternatives.

    Scott Milleisen: Maintaining high standards of ethics and integrity of professional athletes.

    Dan Reed: How new technology impacts the industry. I think it’s more of an opportunity than a challenge, but it can be a challenge if not managed well.

    Jason Robins: Continuing to keep up with rapidly advancing technology.

    Frank Saviano: Finding the appropriate balance for the regulation of personal conduct, on both the player and management side.

    André Schunk: Maintaining relevance for brands, as other platforms (music, entertainment, gaming, culinary, travel, etc.) start to attract more marketing investment.

    Chad Seigler: Creating a compelling in-venue experience for fans.

    Dan Shell: In the college space, the changing financial model placing so much emphasis/need on new revenue streams and attendance at games.

    Brad Sims: Technology. It’s the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity at the same time. Too many kids are playing video games instead of sports. More and more people prefer watching games on huge flat-screen HDTVs, and the technology is only getting better. We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the fan experience at our games so much more compelling than what technology will allow fans to get at home. The trick will be threading the needle between giving that truly unique and compelling in-arena/stadium experience while still providing a best-in-class experience for fans consuming our content in each and every possible medium.

    Jared Smith: Pricing efficiency; getting better at understanding yield management, not just in pricing, but in mix of pricing and distribution channel.

    Teri Patterson Smith: Protecting the health and safety of collegiate and professional athletes. ALS in particular is on the rise in younger former players, and it’s scary how little we know (or seek) to protect against such a debilitating disease.

    Meredith Starkey: For properties to protect categories for their sponsors from competitors. In the World Series, the two competing teams had affiliations with Sprint and AT&T, and it wasn’t easy for us.

    Mike Tomon: The continued merging of technology and the fan experience.

    Danny Townsend: How to better monetize the changing media landscape to ensure sustainable revenue growth beyond linear broadcast.

    Jennifer van Dijk: Keeping up with the myriad technology advances to continue to provide fans of all sports new and exciting ways to consume the games they love.

    Nicole Jeter West: How to continue to entice fans to attend live sporting events. The proliferation of media, access to big data insights, and Wi-Fi connectivity can be seen as barriers or opportunities to enhance or detract from the on-site fan experience. The challenge is finding the balance and being able to adjust and respond based on how the fans interact with the team, league or event.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • Getting to know this year’s Forty Under 40: About the class

    Here’s a further look at the makeup of this year’s SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40.

    Extra classwork
    12 — Have a master’s degree
    5 — Have law degree

    Away from the office
    15 — Were college athletes
    25 — Work out at least 4 days a week
    20 — Sleep less than 6 hours a night

    How they vote
    11 — Republicans
    12 — Democrats
    17 — Identify themselves as Independent or declined to share a political affiliation

    Leading the way, from an early age
    19 — Are oldest siblings

    When the day begins …
    15 — Check email as their first interaction with media
    9 — Go first to Twitter

    The farthest they’ve traveled from home
    7 — Australia
    3 — China, South Africa
    2 — Brazil, England, India, Italy, Singapore, Sweden
    • Additional destinations: Bora Bora; The Okavango Delta in Botswana

    Note: Information based on surveys completed by the 40 executives.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • Hall welcomes Anderson, Connolly, Milleisen

    Renie Anderson, Justin Connolly and Scott Milleisen join the Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame this year.

    They join this group of previous three-time Forty Under 40 honorees.


    Dan Beckerman, AEG
    David Berson, ESPN
    John Brody, Major League Baseball
    Paul Brooks, NASCAR
    Zak Brown, Just Marketing International
    Peter Carlisle, Octagon
    Brian Cashman, New York Yankees
    Bob Cramer, MasterCard International
    Bill Daly, NHL
    Mark Dowley, Momentum Worldwide/McCann Erickson World Group
    Damon Evans, University of Georgia
    John Galloway, Pepsi
    Todd Goldstein, AEG Global Partnerships
    Wally Hayward, Relay Worldwide
    Wayne Katz, Proskauer Rose
    Sam Kennedy, Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management
    Mark Lazarus, Turner Sports
    Rita Benson LeBlanc, New Orleans Saints
    Michael Levine, Van Wagner Sports Group/CAA Sports
    Jon Litner, ABC Sports/NHL
    Lawton Logan, IMG
    Greg Luckman, GroupM ESP/CAA Sports
    Mike McCarley, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics/NBC Golf Media
    Kevin McClatchy, Pittsburgh Pirates
    Howard Nuchow, Mandalay Sports Entertainment/CAA Sports
    Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Gatorade
    Scott O’Neil, NBA
    Jon Oram, Proskauer
    Alan Ostfield, Palace Sports & Entertainment
    Merritt Paulson, Portland Timbers
    Bea Perez, Coca-Cola North America
    Doug Perlman, NHL/IMG Media North America
    Kevin Plank, Under Armour
    Ed Policy, Arena Football League
    David Preschlack, Disney and ESPN Media Networks Group
    George Pyne, NASCAR
    Brian Rolapp, NFL
    Kris Rone, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Chris Russo, NFL
    Greg Shaheen, NCAA
    Eric Shanks, DirecTV
    Mark Shapiro, ESPN
    Jeff Shell, Fox Sports Net/Fox Cable Networks
    Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins
    Mark Steinberg, IMG
    David Sternberg, Fox Cable Networks
    Jennifer Storms, Turner Sports
    Mark Tatum, NBA
    Shannon Terry, Rivals.com
    Heidi Ueberroth, NBA Entertainment
    Casey Wasserman, Wasserman Media Group
    Russell Wolff, ESPN International
    Brett Yormark, NASCAR/Nets Sports and Entertainment
    Peter Zern, Covington & Burling

    Note: Companies are listed as they were at the time the honorees were selected. Multiple companies are noted when the honorees held different jobs during their Forty Under 40 years.

    Tags: On The Ground, Forty Under 40
  • Podcast: The 2015 Forty Under 40 class

    Forty Under 40 editor Mark Mensheha and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss this year's Forty Under 40 class, some of the more interesting stories in it and how the selection process works.

    Tags: Forty Under 40, SBJSBD Podcast
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