Former NBC Sports Exec Jon Litner To Head Up YES Network
The exec who oversaw NBC Sports Group’s RSNs for eight years is poised to join a rival and head up Fox Sports’ biggest RSN. Jon Litner will step in as YES Network President and report to the RSN’s board, which is made up of a combination of Fox and Yankees execs, according to several sources. Litner will work day-to-day with Fox Sports Regional Networks President Jeff Krolik. Fox Sports’ parent, 21st Century Fox, bought an 80% stake in YES Network in early '14. Yankees Global Enterprises, which is majority owned by the Steinbrenners, holds the other 20% stake.
Litner is replacing President & CEO Tracy Dolgin, who moved to a non-executive Chair role with the RSN in June. Litner joins as the RSN has gone through a bumpy patch recently. The channel went dark on Comcast systems earlier this year, meaning that Comcast subscribers in Connecticut and New Jersey have not been able to watch most Yankees games all season. Affiliate deals for several Fox channels, including the broadcast channel, some cable channels and some RSNs, are set to expire at the end of the year. The two sides have started negotiations, and sources say it is likely YES Network will be part of any new deal.
It is easy to see why YES Network is interested in Litner, who has a wealth of experience with RSNs. He launched SNY in '06 as the channel’s President, and in '07 was promoted to Comcast SportsNet President, overseeing all of Comcast’s RSNs. He left that position last November, telling employees in an internal memo that he planned to take up a "new leadership role down the road in this dynamic age of sports and entertainment media." Fox Sports declined comment.