Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 135

People and Pop Culture

Name: Danny Keens

Position: NextVR VP/Content

Age: 39

Where I’m from: Bungendore, Australia

Where I call home: N.Y.

Focusing on right now: The big measure of success for us is the amount of time we can keep people in a headset. The Bundesliga game we did in June of last year, the average time spent in a headset was four minutes. Fast forward to our NBA game we did last week, the average time spent in a headset was 32 ½ minutes. That speaks to the quality of the content.

Best advice: You have to be a student of the medium -- that could be radio, television or virtual reality. You can’t master any of these mediums or the storytelling associated with them by just hanging around people who talk about it. You can’t just learn calculus by hanging around people who know calculus. You have to study it and understand not just what the questions are, but what the answers are.

A must for a new hire: A lot of people have a philosophy when they’re hiring where they’ll say, “Are they a cultural fit?” I have the reverse approach. I always look for a cultural add. If there’s a cultural add, it’s more valuable. If you hire with the philosophy of a cultural fit, you end up building an organization or company filled with people who have the same opinions as you. There isn’t the flavor to the company that you need to grow.

Person I admire: KATIE JACOBS STANTON, who was the VP/Global at Twitter while I was there. I keep regular contact with her -- she was really insightful and could look at things different ways and help me get perspectives on decisions whether it was day-to-day conversations or more broad-sweeping conversations around strategy. She was very generous with her time -- I would talk to her about a lot of things.

Best book I’ve read: “Shoe Dog” by PHIL KNIGHT was actually a surprisingly good read.

First thing in the morning: At night I always make a list of three things I need to accomplish the next day, so first thing every morning I’ll take a look and reassess. If you do that process, things often change -- sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Talking tech: One thing I’m keeping an eye on, completely unrelated to VR, is the smart cars and the rise of these autonomous vehicles. It’s going to cover so many industries. If you think about autonomous vehicles, you have to think about smart roads and the infrastructure required to make them safe.

Must-have music: INXS. There’s also an Australian band called POWDERFINGER. My favorite band though is ICEHOUSE -- so I'm all over Australian rock. I also have Spotify and listen to that a lot. If I look at my most recently played music, there’s a band called YEARS & YEARS and there’s a bit of LADY GAGA.

Food for thought: I’m an absolute sucker for good Mexican food. If you lined up a bunch of restaurants in front of me, I’d always go Mexican first.

How I unwind: I’ll go to the gym, and I also have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Taylor. I take him out in the mornings and last thing at night. He is my pride and joy. On top of that -- movies. The best thing about going to the movies is just sitting back and having someone tell you a story -- and you don’t have to work hard for that.

Day in the life: The sports content that we broadcast, it can’t just be different from television, it can’t just be a novelty, it has to be better. When you watch an NBA game in VR, we give you a pregame show, stats, game score, shot clock, dynamic player stats. All the information you want gets overlaid on the experience. We also just introduced the ability to do full-screen replays. We’re really trying to double-down on the technology and the demands of the audience.

Eurosport Digital named NBA Senior VP/Global Media Distribution ALEX KAPLAN Exec VP/Commercial, where he will be responsible for pricing and packaging, marketing, media buying and sponsorships. He will report to Discovery Chief Commercial Officer PAUL GUYARDO, who worked with Kaplan at DirecTV. Kaplan will be based in Discovery’s N.Y. office initially. Kaplan was named to SBJ/SBD's "Forty Under 40" class in ’13 (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

SENIOR ROLE: NBCU President of Research & Media Development ALAN WURTZEL is "transitioning" to a senior advisory role. Wurtzel's research team will now report to NBC Entertainment President of Program Planning, Strategy & Research JEFF BADER's group, which will "oversee the research functions for all entertainment programming" at NBC and NBCU (, 1/10). Wurtzel is a "TV research pioneer who joined NBC 17 years ago and has spent 40 years in the broadcast business" (, 1/10).

EXECS: Univision Communications promoted interim Head of Corporate Communications ROSEMARY MERCEDES to Exec VP & Chief Communications Officer. She will report to Univision President & CEO RANDY FALCO (, 1/10)....Whistle Sports Exec VP BRIAN SELANDER will join VC firm SeventySix Capital as Entrepreneur in Residence. SeventySix Capital invests in companies involved with e-commerce, retail, sports, media and healthcare. Selander has been with Whistle Sports since ’12, two years before its launch. SeventySix Capital was an early investor in Whistle Sports (Ourand)....The Patriot League named NCAA Coordinator of Playing Rules and Officiating, Championships & Alliances EMILY PARKINS Dir of Championships & Sport Management (Patriot League)....The WNBA Liberty named former player SWIN CASH Dir of Franchise Development. Cash will "help with both business and basketball operations, aiding in the growth of the Liberty franchise, in addition to working with players and coaches." The position is the "first of its kind in the WNBA" (AP, 1/10)....The independent Atlantic League New Britain Bees named former Double-A Eastern League New Britain Rock Cats Exec VP & GM GERRY BERTHIAUME GM, replacing PAT DAY, who "stepped down to pursue new career opportunities" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/11)....The Clippers hired KEVIN GARNETT as a consultant (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/11).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

Create your own Executive Transaction

Ready to make your next great hire? Or take the next step in your career? Connect with the industry’s top employers and job seekers on the Sports Business Career Link. For more information, contact Matt Gibson at 212-500-0714, or

Golfer MORGAN PRESSEL's "Morgan and Friends" charity tournament to fight cancer concluded Monday after raising more than $1M for the second straight year, bringing the total to more than $6.5M since Pressel "first started the tournament" 10 years ago. Participants this year included PAULA CREAMER, LYDIA KO, GERINA PILLER, LEXI THOMPSON and BRITTANY LINCICOME (AP, 1/10)....Michigan State men's basketball coach TOM IZZO and his family have "helped raise more than $712,000 for the American Cancer Society, and Izzo is taking part in a number of initiatives this year to help raise more money and awareness." When MSU hosts Michigan on Jan. 29, Izzo will "sport tennis shoes as part of the Suites And Sneakers Week"  (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/11).

NOT GOING AWAY: A federal lawsuit filed yesterday in Michigan alleges former U.S. Women's Olympic gymnastics coach JOHN GEDDERT "failed to report parent concerns about possible sexual abuse" by then-Team USA physician DR. LARRY NASSAR. In addition to Geddert, the suit also "names USA Gymnastics ... and Michigan State" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/11). 

YAO MING has become the latest shareholder in Formula E (HJ Mai, SBD Global)....Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnasts SIMONE BILES and ALY RAISMAN will be featured in the '17 SI swimsuit issue (, 1/10)....JOHNNY MANZIEL next month will “make his first announced promotional appearance since leaving the NFL.” Manziel will “sign autographs in two memorabilia shops at Texas malls during Super Bowl week” (, 1/10)....In attendance at last night's Indiana-Maryland men’s basketball game were ESPN’s SCOTT VAN PELT, Ravens coach JOHN HARBAUGH, Redskins TE VERNON DAVIS and former Maryland basketball coach GARY WILLIAMS (, 1/10).

Be sure to submit your entries for the 2017 Sports Business Awards. Entries are being accepted in 17 categories and Friday is the deadline. To make your bid to share the stage with the best in sports business at the Sports Business Awards, click here.

Categories this year include:
Talent Representation
Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services
Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services
Sports Event and Experiential Marketing
To see the full list of categories and submit an entry, go to

The Sports Business Awards will be held on Wednesday, May 24 at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.