In another strong signal that it intends to be a major force in TV sports, Time Warner Cable -- the country's second largest cable operator -- hired a president for its newly created division TWC Sports. Former CAA exec DAVID RONE will take over the reins of the company's sports division. Based in L.A., Rone will report to TWC Exec VP/Chief Video & Content Officer MELINDA WITMER. The cable operator hired Rone to help it strengthen relationships with sports leagues, conferences and teams as it continues to increase the amount of sports programming it offers. "We recognized that we needed someone in this position," Witmer said. "David will help craft a strategy to help us work more closely with ESPN, leagues and conferences." One of the first items on Rone's to-do list will be to launch two RSNs in L.A. -- one in English and one in Spanish -- in time for the Lakers' '12-13 season. Rone will be assembling a staff for those channels, including a GM and executive producers. "David's job will go beyond just local sports rights," Witmer said. "His job will be a global leadership position across all of our sports properties." The job seems like a natural fit for Rone, who has spent years nurturing relationships while holding down jobs at Fox and CAA. In his most recent job, with Evolution Media Capital, Rone helped the Pac-10 land its eye-popping $250M per year media deal from ESPN and Fox. He also has represented the Nets during the team's attempts to re-do its media rights deal with YES Network. Witmer said she was impressed with the level of Rone's relationships throughout sports media; the interviewing process took less than a week. "I had my eye on him for some time," she said. "He is well respected and well liked."
People and Pop Culture
Univision has hired former ESPN exec RICK ALESSANDRI as the network's Senior VP/Business Development. Alessandri, who will be based in N.Y. and report to Exec VP & COO RANDY FALCO, will be focused on developing new revenue streams for the network. He joins Univision after 10 years at ESPN, where he was Senior VP/Consumer Products & Managing Dir of X Games. He also was Senior VP/ESPN Enterprises & Consumer Products. Prior to ESPN, he was the VP & GM of SportsTicker, the online sports news reporting service (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Meanwhile, Univision Television Group Exec VP/Advertising Sales KEVIN CUDDIHY has been promoted to Univision Television Group President (Univision).
BLEACHER SEATS: Bleacher Report has hired former CBSSports.com Senior VP/Advertising Sales RICH CALACCI as its Chief Revenue Officer, a newly created position. Calacci will be based in N.Y. and oversee the online outfit's ad sales team, including VP/Sales JOSH ABRAMS. Calacci has history with Bleacher Report, as CBSSports.com previously held a syndication pact with the online sports hub. "We were after someone with a lot of experience to further our relationships with top-level brands," said Bleacher Report CEO BRIAN GREY. "We see this as another big step forward for us" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
NEW ESPN HIRE: ESPN hired CINDY FREED from Yahoo to be VP/Sales & Marketing for ESPN's customer marketing and sales group. Freed will report to Senior VP/Marketing Solutions SEAN HANRAHAN and Senior VP/Multimedia Sales TRICIA BETRON. Freed, who will be based in N.Y., will oversee ESPN's ad sales marketing group. Before Yahoo, Freed worked as VP/Business Marketing at USA Today and as a media planning supervisor at BBDO (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
EXECS: Momentum Worldwide has launched Momentum Sports in Brazil. The company will be lead by four co-Chairs: Momentum Worldwide CMO KEVIN MCNULTY, Momentum Brazil President MARCOS LACERDA, WMcCann Worldgroup Latin America Creative Chair Officer WASHINGTON OIVETTO and former racecar driver EMERSON FITTIPALDI (Momentum Worldwide)....SportsMark Management Group has opened an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and has named KEVIN SMITH Business Dir at the new location (SportsMark).
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In L.A., Rubin & Becerra report GIOVANNI RAMIREZ yesterday was "taken into custody without incident and arrested on suspicion that he was one of two men who blindsided" Giants fan BRYAN STOW "in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on March 31 following the season opener" between the Dodgers and Giants. Ramirez was "booked on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon and is being held on $1 million bail" (L.A. TIMES, 5/23).
GOING TO REHAB: Golden Boy Promotions Founder & President Oscar De La Hoya "has checked into a rehabilitation clinic in California." De La Hoya "went into rehab within the last few weeks." The "nature of his problem is not known." Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said that De La Hoya "was still in rehab," which is why he was not at Saturday's Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal bout at Bell Centre, one of his company's "biggest fights of the year" (ESPN.com, 5/22).
RUNNING AROUND THE PARK: In Boston, Steve Bishop notes "more than 2,000 runners, including almost 300 active military service members," participated in the 5.6-mile Run To Home Base yesterday in Boston. The race "began on Yawkey Way, stretched over the river to Memorial Drive and ended with runners crossing home plate inside" Fenway Park. It "raised an estimated $2.6 million for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program." The race was the "second annual Run to Home Base, and participants were required to raise $1,000" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/23).
HONORS & RECOGNITIONS: Pacers President of Basketball Operations LARRY BIRD will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and former NFLer TY LAW will receive the Football Legacy Award at The Sports Museum of New England's "The Tradition" event June 28 at TD Garden. Former boxer MICKY WARD, former MLBer MIKE LOWELL, NHL Dir of Youth Development WILLIE O'REE and marathoner BOBBI GIBB also will be honored (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/22)....Suns Managing Partner ROBERT SARVER was among the CEOs honored by the Phoenix Business Journal Thursday as part of the publication's "Most Admired CEOs" program (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/20)....The Yankees Friday announced a new exhibit dedicated to honoring the legacy of late Chair GEORGE STEINBRENNER at the team's museum. The exhibit includes a variety of Steinbrenner's championship rings (Yankees).
NAMES: Twins co-Owner BILL POHLAD yesterday accepted the “prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France” for the movie “TREE OF LIFE,” which he helped finance and produce (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/23)….Broncos DB DAVID BRUTON "has turned to substitute teaching to help fill his days in Miamisburg, Ohio, his hometown," during the lockout. Bruton "received a one-year substitute teacher's license from the Ohio Department of Education." He "received $90 for each day in the classroom, about $10 an hour" (DENVER POST, 5/23)....Cyclist TYLER HAMILTON has "handed over his 2004 Olympic gold medal to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency." A source said that Hamilton has admitted to "doping during his career but denies doing so during the 2004 Olympics" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/21)....S.F.-based Tipping Point Community, which is devoted to fighting poverty, raised $6.2M at its annual benefit Thursday night. Giants President & COO LARRY BAER and 49ers President & CEO and Tipping Point BOD member JED YORK addressed the assembled crowd (TPC)....Pistons G RODNEY STUCKEY, set to be a restricted free agent after this season, has switched representation from STEVE BANKS to CAA’s LEON ROSE, Stuckey’s fifth agent since ’07 (DETROIT NEWS, 5/22)….The run of “ERNIE,” author MITCH ALBOM’s play inspired by late Tigers broadcaster ERNIE HARWELL, has been extended at Detroit’s City Theatre in Hockeytown Café until July 31 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/21)….Int'l Tennis HOFer BILLIE JEAN KING delivered the commencement address yesterday at the Univ. of Vermont (UVM)....A medical examiner determined that NHL Rangers LW DEREK BOOGAARD died earlier this month “from an accidental overdose” of alcohol and painkillers (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).