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Volume 20 No. 45
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Forty Under 40

In the two years that he has overseen Fox Soccer, David Nathanson has become Fox’s soccer evangelist, developing a programming strategy for the sport that spans Fox’s broadcast and cable channels. Nathanson developed the successful strategy of running tape-delayed matches from the English Premier League before or after some of Fox’s singleheader NFL games this fall.

“Every time there’s a Premier League match that could run after an NFL singleheader or any time we could do anything, David’s in my office saying, ‘Hey, how about putting these 18 matches on the broadcast network?’” Fox Sports co-President Eric Shanks joked. “He’s terrific. He’s always looking for opportunities to expand soccer’s reach.”

Nathanson’s biggest success came in October last year, when he oversaw Fox’s winning bid for World Cup rights in 2018 and 2022. Fox surprised the industry by paying nearly $500 million for the two events, beating out the incumbent, ESPN, for the package.

Nathanson was responsible for developing that bid. He traveled to Zurich two weeks before the bid to demonstrate to FIFA how serious Fox was in the bidding. Eventually, Nathanson was joined by Shanks, co-President Randy Freer and Claudia Teran, deputy general counsel of the Fox Networks Group.

Once Fox’s contingent submitted its bid, they went to a restaurant at the Park Hyatt in Zurich and waited for a phone call to tell them whether they had won the bid. A table of Univision executives and a table of NBC-Telemundo executives were close by.

By that time, Nathanson had been away from his family for close to three weeks, and he felt like he was missing a lot of milestones from his 10-month-old daughter, Nina. One of the Fox executives joked that when kids are young, the most trivial things — like potty training — become huge milestones.

Soon after, Nathanson’s phone rang. It was FIFA’s director of television, Niclas Ericson, telling him that Fox’s bid was accepted. Nathanson did not want to let competing network executives know that Fox had won, so he played it cool.

“They’re waiting to see who my call was from,” Nathanson said. “I hung up the phone and had no expression on my face. And I said to Randy, Eric and Claudia, ‘Guys, you’re not going to believe it. Nina went poo-poo on the potty.’ We all high-fived. That’s how they knew we won the World Cup.”

Age: 35
Titles: Executive vice president and general manager, Fox Soccer
COMPANY: Fox Sports Media Group
Education: B.A., University of Pennsylvania; MBA, Anderson School of Management, UCLA
Family: Wife, Sabina; daughter, Nina (14 months)
Career: More than 12 years at News Corp. in new media and channel development
First job: Cablevision Systems Corp., new media division
Last vacation: Aspen, Colo.
what's on your ipod? Radiohead
guilty pleasure: Reality television
best stress release: Making my daughter laugh
pet peeve: Complacency
fantasy job: Napa Valley wine maker
what keeps you awake at night? The baby monitor
business advice: Respect is earned.