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Volume 24 No. 135

People and Pop Culture

ESPN President JOHN SKIPPER has made significant changes to his management team, promoting CONNOR SCHELL to Exec VP/Content, where he will oversee all ESPN content creation on all platforms. As part of the moves, Exec VP/Digital & Print Media JOHN KOSNER is leaving ESPN after a 20-year run with the company and Exec VP/Global Business & Content Strategy MARIE DONOGHUE will leave ESPN at the end of the year. ESPN announced the moves earlier this morning. For ESPN, the moves streamline the content exec management team, with Schell, an SBJ/SBD "Forty Under 40" HOFer, overseeing programming content, Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling BURKE MAGNUS overseeing programming business and Exec VP/Affiliate Sales & Marketing JUSTIN CONNOLLY overseeing distribution, strategy and development. Clearly, the biggest winner from the moves is Schell, who now oversees all ESPN content: studio and remote production, digital and print content, ESPN Films, Original Content, Audio and the ESPN Talent Office. Three execs who used to report to Skipper now report to Schell -- Exec VP/Production & Exec Editor NORBY WILLIAMSON, Senior VP/Events & Studio Production STEPHANIE DRULEY and Senior VP/”SportsCenter,” News & Information ROB KING. As part of the moves, King will oversee all news and information across all platforms, Druley will oversee all global productions and Williamson will oversee daytime studio programming, original content, ESPN Films, ESPN Audio and the Talent Office. Another notable move is with Magnus, who will continue to report to Skipper and adds oversight of ESPN’s important BAMTech relationship to his duties.

BIG HOLES TO FILL: The biggest surprise has to be Kosner, who is leaving ESPN after 20 years of heading up the company’s digital efforts. “Our tremendous scale in digital media and the smart evolution of our digital products is directly attributable to John’s passion, business savvy and relentless focus on innovation,” Skipper said in a prepared statement. With Kosner’s departure, Senior VP/Product & Digital Media RYAN SPOON will report to Exec VP/Chief Tech Officer AARON LABERGE. Kosner said, “I had a great run at ESPN, and the beat goes on.” The departure of Donoghue, an SBJ "Game Changer" in '12, also is a surprise as she had been an important part of Skipper’s management team. An ESPN source said Donoghue had been exploring other opportunities, but Skipper asked her to remain as an advisor through the rest of the year.

Autism school Melmark New England honored Red Sox Senior VP/Fenway Concerts & Entertainment LARRY CANCRO and his wife, LUISE, last week for their contributions to the organization by dedicating MNE’s Riverwalk, Lawrence site as The Cancro Center for Adult Services. The family first brought its daughter, LISA, to MNE in ’01, and Lisa is currently a member of MNE’s adult community. Larry Cancro said, “My family and I are humbled and honored by the naming of the Cancro Center for Adult Services. Melmark is a special organization. We are thrilled that countless families in circumstances similar to ours will continue to be served and cared for at the center for years to come.” Cancro is also MNE Chair, and Melmark President & CEO RITA GARDNER said he has used his “very public position” to raise public awareness and support the organization. Gardner: “There is no way to overstate his commitment to Melmark as an organization and Melmark New England. During our recent leadership transition, Larry has been the most vocal about making sure Melmark was always mission-first and that the board’s role was to develop a path that continues that path for the overall corporation.”

Larry Cancro and his wife (right) were honored by the school last week with their family in attendance

Clippers President of Basketball Operations and coach DOC RIVERS is "buying a home in Malibu" for $9.525M. The house is in a "guard-gated enclave, and sits along the oceanfront." Built in '78, the two-story house "features high ceilings, two fireplaces and surf-facing decks extending from each floor." Some 3,400 square feet of living space "includes an open-plan kitchen, living and dining rooms, four bedrooms and five bedrooms." The master suite is a "separate sitting area and glass doors that open to a wraparound deck" (, 6/15).

FISH AIN'T BITING: Georgetown men's basketball coach PATRICK EWING is "still trying to unload" his Creeskill, N.J., mansion after two years on the market and has cut the price by another $500,000 to $5.5M. The brick home on nearly two acres features an "enormous kitchen with butler's pantry, a master bedroom suite with fireplace and a luxurious bathroom." The home also features a gym "leading to the half basketball court, plus a pool, spa, and a two-level patio"  (, 6/10)....Former tennis player ANDY RODDICK and his wife, BROOKLYN DECKER, are "struggling to sell" their home in Cashiers, N.C. The "four-bedroom, five-bathroom property" has been reduced to $2.65M (, 6/9).

BUYERS & SELLERS: Hawks F KRIS HUMPHRIES has sold his Beverly Hills home for $8.25M after purchasing it two years ago for $6.2M. The 3,300-square-foot home has "glass walls and skylights." It has "three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in all." Through glass doors "sit a covered terrace with a barbecue, wet bar, swimming pool and spa" (, 6/13)....F1 driver JENSON BUTTON has bought a home in the Brentwood neighborhood in L.A. for $6.1M. Set behind "gates and hedges, the Cape Cod-style two-story was reimagined for indoor-outdoor living." Within nearly 4,800 square feet of interior space is a "living room with a fireplace, a center-island kitchen, a dining room, five bedrooms and six bathrooms" (, 6/13)....Dolphins G JERMON BUSHROD purchased a home in Davie, Fla., for $1.785M. The 8,003-square-foot home sits on a 40,000-square-foot lot. Built in '05, the home has "six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a pool" (, 6/9)....Dolphins LB KIKO ALONSO purchased a home in Ft. Lauderdale for $1.44M. The 3,432-square-foot home last traded for $710,000 in '15, although it was "renovated since then." Built in '53, the home features "four bedrooms and five bathrooms" (, 6/13)...Former NHLer KYLE CALDER listed his home in Lake View, Ill., for $1.495M. The five-bedroom brick home has "3 1/2 baths, three fireplaces, custom millwork and cabinetry" and a "kitchen with granite countertops" (, 6/8).

USGA Head of Global Content & Media Distribution NAVIN SINGH is onsite this week at Erin Hills for the U.S. Open. Singh is in his second year with the governing body, and he was excited to get out to the Midwest for the tournament's showing in Wisconsin this year. "Walking the golf course, visiting our merchandise pavilion, people come up to me when I’m in my USGA shirt and they tell me how excited they are. They ask questions about the best places to watch around the course, best days to come. They haven’t had a chance to experience a U.S. Open like this before."

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: Starting Monday we walked with players who were out on the course practicing, got some thoughts from them and also did some interviews with key executives to get their insight on the tournament. Then we collected some lighter content to demonstrate the openness of our championship, that way we engage with our audience in a different way. We did interviews with players such as JORDAN SPIETH and RORY MCILROY, to name a few. The whole week we've been in content production mode for all of our channels. I’ve been here in Wisconsin since Sunday, and on Monday we went into internal meetings, then meetings with Fox and Golf Channel. We met with Fox and then had off-the-cuff meetings with our other TV partners to make sure they had everything they need to be successful.

ALL ABOUT APPROACH: We did about 13 hours of live streaming on Thursday between our digital platforms, broadcast television and on top of that producing content for our digital channels. So Thursday I moved from our TV production trailers to our digital media trailers and then also over to our content production pods in the media center. Working with our teams, evaluating our content and our broadcast, and then getting feedback to make sure we’re delivering our product. Personally when doing a golf championship like this, I love to remind myself that we have 18 holes to cover. It’s not one field, or one arena in which all play is being conducted. That gives us a great opportunity to engage with fans, get close to the action. From a content perspective it also gives you ample opportunities because you can make decisions on what you want to cover, then how you want to share on a variety of platforms.

: There’s nothing like the energy at a U.S. Open. The passion I've seen here onsite is incredible. There was a huge crowd of fans here on Monday even though the week just got started. We’re also very fortunate that many of the PGA Tour players have a wonderful relationship with the USGA and our team that goes out and creates content with them never has anything but good things to say about them. From an events perspective, we’re fortunate that we have courteous players that support our championships.

THE GOOD STUFF: It’s a lot of man-hours this week for sure, but you can always pause to take a deep breath. I try to always spend time with the team, even if it’s just a quick bite to eat after the day has run its course. You also have to be sure to set aside time for your broadcast and corporate partners. I’ll check in at home where my wife and I have two little girls, too. Especially Sunday being Father’s Day, I’ll make sure to make that call in the morning.

Catapult Sports President of North America BRIAN KOPP is leaving the wearable technology company after nearly three years. Kopp played a central role in building the company’s American business, including establishing a U.S. headquarters in Chicago, helping the company acquire XOS Digital last year and gaining MLB approval earlier this year for in-game use of its products. Kopp’s next career stop is not yet determined, though he will still work in a limited capacity as senior advisor to Catapult. Prior to joining Catapult in ’14, Kopp was Senior VP/Sports Solutions for Stats LLC (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

EXECS: LeadDog Sports Managing Dir JAMEY SUNSHINE is leaving the company after Friday. He will join Nestle USA to head its experiential marketing department (THE DAILY)....Wasserman named Beverly Hills Sports Council agent RAFA NIEVES VP/Baseball. Nieves is an MLBPA certified agent that has been representing players for more than six years (Wasserman)....Columbia Sportswear promoted VP/Finance JIM SWANSON to Senior VP & CFO and VP/Chief Accounting Officer PETER RAUCH to Senior VP & Chief Transformation Officer (Columbia)....MLB named MARK IRVINGS as its independent arbitrator to replace FREDRIC HOROWITZ. Irvings, 68, has "heard baseball salary arbitration cases for the past six years" (AP, 6/15)....The NHL named Padres Dir of Community Outreach ALLISON EDDY Dir of Business Development (THE DAILY)....LAFC promoted Premium Membership Sales Consultant MICHAEL LIENERT to Business Development Manager (LAFC)....The NFL Panthers named Bills Dir of Pro Personnel ROB HANRAHAN Pro Scout and Maverick Sports Consulting President & Owner DAVID TURNER BLESTO Scout. The team also promoted Football Operations Manager BRYAN PORTER to Dir of Football Operations and Football Operations Assistant MIKE ANDERSON to Assistant Dir of Football Operations (Panthers).

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A blimp advertising for PenFed Credit Union near the U.S. Open on Thursday "deflated, burst into flames and crashed." The crash site was "about a mile from the Erin Hills golf course." The pilot, TREVOR THOMPSON, was "treated for serious injuries, including burns." The USGA in a statement said that the blimp "was not affiliated with the USGA or the U.S Open" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/16)....Basketball HOFer BILL RUSSELL will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever "NBA Awards" on TNT, airing Monday, June 26, with coverage beginning at 9:00pm ET (NBA)....Chicago-based tech company Digital Golf Technologies, which installs cameras on golf courses to "run hole-in-one contests," raised $4M and hired former Sportsvision President MIKE JAKOB as its new CEO (, 6/15)....Georgetown men's basketball coach PATRICK EWING stopped by CNN's WOLF BLITZER's table at Cafe Milano Thursday night to "pay his respects" (, 6/16)....A WWE/Cricket Wireless ad featuring JOHN CENA is No. 7 on Google's YouTube Ads Cannes Leaderboard, which recognizes the top 10 performing YouTube ads globally in the past year (THE DAILY). 

Click here to listen to the SMT Live Podcast -- “OTT Gets Personal.”  This is the second episode that looks at the fast-changing world of OTT programming and marketing and comes after “OTT Goes Global” that was presented earlier this year. In “OTT Goes Personal,” you will hear how these organizations are personalizing content to attract new viewers, and their strategies on making their product standout in the marketplace, reducing churn and maintaining subscribers. The discussion is moderated by SBJ/SBD Exec Editor ABE MADKOUR and participants include Big Ten Network Senior VP/Programming & Digital Media MICHAEL CALDERON, Univision Senior VP/Products & Technology SCOTT LEVINE, NeuLion Exec VP & co-Founder CHRIS WAGNER and Tennis Channel Head of Digital Media & Business Development ADAM WARE.

SportsBusiness Journal this fall will publish the seventh annual Game Changers: Women in Sports Business feature. This annual special section profiles women who are having a major impact in sports business. The Sept. 11 publication will be followed by our Game Changers Conference in N.Y. on Sept. 14. The deadline to nominate someone for Game Changers has been extended through June 25. To nominate someone for Game Changers, or for more information about the program, go to