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Volume 20 No. 46
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Bryan Burns, The Forward Direction Group

There is little in sports TV that Bryan Burns hasn’t seen. A longtime executive at MLB, Burns spent 17 years at ESPN as a key advocate for HDTV and other emerging technologies. Now, he’s formed The Forward Direction Group, a sports/entertainment consultancy that features a roster of eight associates from across the industry, including sports TV veteran Jody Shapiro, former DirecTV marketing vice president Jayne Hancock, and former MLB Properties and Nike executive Rick White.


I looked for individuals with strengths and proven experience in areas beyond my own areas of expertise.

The future of 4K TV in sports:
This is a complex topic much bigger than sports, and there’s been a lot of learning from HD and 3D. 4K will be the next 1080p in that it will be the next generation of enhanced-screen technology for consumer purchase. [It will] not lead to widespread production of sports programming making its way to our homes in 4K but will appear in more production trucks to enhance existing telecasts.

What TV Everywhere needs: For true takeoff, we need to patiently promote and wait for the teenagers who are so attached to their mobile devices to age into the key spending demographic. Everything needs to be provided for Everywhere, and there needs to be better aggregation of available TV Everywhere programming at the consumer device level.

Sport most poised for significant growth: Basketball, with growth defined not by audience delivery but by numbers of telecasts. Think about the football games that are televised today that weren’t before, be it college and down into the high schools. Stand by for the same from basketball.

The future of sports TV rights: The big will get bigger, and the mediums and smalls will have an increasingly difficult time maintaining current economics.

— Eric Fisher