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Volume 21 No. 2


Media industry veteran Jennifer Chun has been hired by the NBA as part of the league’s drive to add staff with an eye on forthcoming media-deal negotiations.

Chun joins the NBA from Time Warner Cable, where she had worked since 2011, most recently as senior vice president of content acquisition. She began at the NBA last week, working as senior vice president of global media distribution and reporting to Bill Koenig, president of global media distribution for the NBA. She also will work closely with David Denenberg, the NBA’s senior vice president of global media distribution and business affairs.

Chun’s job is a new position at the NBA and follows the league last fall signing its nine-year, $24 billion media-rights deal with Turner and ESPN. That deal calls for the NBA and ESPN to create an over-the-top network.

“We have a lot going on, and as my portfolio has expanded a bit, we needed to bring on some people,” Koenig said. “Obviously we did our big network deal, but we have a lot of NBA TV and League Pass affiliation deals coming up in a year or two and we have the over-the-top part that I want her to focus on.”

At Time Warner Cable, Chun worked on business related to NBA TV and League Pass.

“Those are my touch points to the league,” she said. “I am definitely hoping to be helpful there, and they are great products.”

Prior to joining Time Warner Cable, Chun worked for Fox Cable Networks and News Corp. Digital Media.

Chun leaves Time Warner during the pending sale of the company to Charter Communications, but Chun said the sale had no bearing on her decision to leave the company and join the NBA.

“In fact, it was the most bittersweet departure I have had,” said Chun, who was a SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Game Changers honoree in 2013. “I think they have an exciting future no matter what happens with Charter.”
Koenig said he will continue to add to his staff.

“I’m not sure we will be hiring senior people like Jennifer, but we will round out the team,” he said.

While at Time Warner, Chun reported to Time Warner Cable’s chief video and content officer, Melinda Witmer — who is married to Koenig.

“I got to know Jennifer because she was on the NBA TV and League Pass accounts regardless of who her boss was at Time Warner, but I got to know her better because of her dealing with Melinda,” Koenig said.

For Chun, the familiarity between her old boss and her new boss is simply part of the job.

“I said to Melinda that I feel extra pressure to live up to what she told Bill about me,” Chun said.

Jennifer Storms, global senior vice president of sports marketing for PepsiCo, is leaving the company to become chief marketing officer of NBC Sports Group.

Jennifer Storms, shown in 2011, joined PepsiCo originally as a Gatorade exec.
In her new job, Storms will report to NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. She will be based in Stamford, Conn., and begins her new job Thursday.

Current NBC Sports Group Chief Marketing Officer John Miller will continue to head up marketing efforts around the Olympics as NBC Olympics CMO. Miller, 64, who has been with NBC since 1982, also will remain chairman of NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council.

Storms will be tasked with overseeing marketing for NBC Sports, its sports channels (NBC Sports Network, Golf Channel and 10 RSNs), radio and digital. Storms also will lead the NBC Sports Agency, which has produced marketing campaigns for league partners the EPL, PGA Tour and NHL.

Storms, a SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40 hall of famer, has been at Pepsi since 2009, having joined the company originally as Gatorade senior vice president of sports marketing. She moved into her current role in 2011.

The new position for Storms at NBC returns her to the media business. She was with Turner Sports from 1995 until 2009, rising to senior vice president, sports marketing and programming.

Mobile sports company OneUp Sports has acquired New Jersey-based digital video company Cine-Sport, creating a large-scale operation servicing local media outlets and individual teams.

The 4-year-old OneUp Sports has built a growing business developing mobile applications for pro teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, and leagues such as the NFL and NASCAR, as well as creating its own proprietary mobile games and second-screen experiences.

CineSport, meanwhile, in its eighth year of operation syndicates video content to more than 700 publishers, primarily major metro newspapers such as The Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Daily News.

OneUp executives said they saw an opportunity to create a broad digital business based heavily on local-market activation.

“This was really a case of one plus one equaling three,” said Daren Trousdell, chief executive for the Florida-based OneUp Sports. “We don’t have the video tech and production capabilities that CineSport does, and they are not as focused on mobile as we have been. So it makes for a strong combination, and by merging, we can aggregate a very high audience.”

Financial terms were not disclosed. Investors in CineSport, founded and led by former NBA executive Gregg Winik, have included Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which made a low-seven-figure investment for a minority stake in the company two years ago. OneUp now owns all the equity in the company, and Trousdell said the deal includes “a path for further upside” for CineSport’s investors.

OneUp will retain CineSport’s staff of about 20. No decisions have been made about retaining the CineSport brand name.

Winik said he was looking to align CineSport with a larger organization to accelerate the growth of the company.
“We’re both in the ad sales business, and scale is very important,” Winik said. “We’re also both local in focus, so between the team and media business, we think we collectively have a very compelling proposition to the market.”

One of biggest sports media trends this year has been the increased attention TV networks are giving to gambling, from the glut of daily fantasy ads to the amount of attention on-air talent gives to point spreads and over-under lines.

But ESPN/SEC Network’s Brent Musburger, the first broadcaster who comes to mind with regard to gambling talk on television, says his gambling references will not become more overt when a team scores a seemingly meaningless touchdown at the end of the game to cover a point spread. Instead, Musburger will continue to make veiled references to such scores, saying something like “it is important to some” or referencing his “friends in the desert” (i.e., Las Vegas).

“I like to refer to ‘high-scoring games’ or ‘low-scoring games,’” Musberger said. “Those who know, know. Those who don’t, it’s fine.

“I am very aware about what’s going on,” he continued. “I know when spreads or over-unders are covered. That’s not the main point of emphasis in covering a ballgame. I’m aware that a lot of people are interested in it and partake in it. Nobody has ever said anything to me. Executives understand the appeal.”

Musburger applauded ESPN and others for being more forthright in addressing gambling during studio shows, such as Scott Van Pelt’s new show and “College GameDay.” He said studio shows offer more time to address gambling issues smartly and thoroughly than live games.

“I would be a little uneasy at the college level if they make too big a deal of it during the games,” Musburger said. “The studios are fair game. That’s where they should discuss it and go for it. If any announcer wants to make a casual reference, that’s fine. That is not the primary reason people come to the games. There’s still a lot of passion for the teams.”

“We have to get away from the idea that this is some dark thing that goes on where everybody’s trying to fix games.”
—Brent Musburger

Musburger has been the poster child of gambling talk on TV dating to the late 1970s, when he and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder had a weekly segment on their CBS NFL pregame show that focused on which team should be considered the favorite.

“[Former NFL Commissioner] Pete Rozelle is the one who basically signed off on using The Greek,” Musburger said. “The only thing he ever asked us was not to specifically say a six-point or a 10-point favorite, but to use the checkmarks that we developed so that people would understand which side The Greek might be leaning.”

Like others, Musburger has noticed that gambling is getting more attention on television this year, a development he believes comes a result of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s call last year to legalize it.

“That is the grown-up way to view gambling,” he said. “We have to get away from the idea that this is some dark thing that goes on where everybody’s trying to fix games.”

As for Musburger, he said he has no problem with announcers who bet on games, so long as they aren’t the games they are working. “If you want to have a wager on another game, that’s all well and good,” he said.

He dabbled with some daily fantasy baseball games with FanDuel earlier this year and was shut out.

“The fantasy thing amuses me from the standpoint that it was unexpected,” he said. “When the NFL fell in behind fantasy football, there was no such thing as daily fantasy. My guess is that there are certain owners in that league right now who are a little uneasy about the monster that may have been created here.”

John Ourand can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.

Three months removed from leaving Manchester United, veteran sports media executive David Sternberg is back in the United States and running his own sports media consultancy, Claygate Advisors.

Sternberg hung his shingle in Westport, Conn., opting to follow a consultancy trail blazed by sports media executives like Doug Perlman, Ed Desser and Leslie Gittess.

David Sternberg predicts there will be “a Netflix of sports.”
Sternberg has three clients so far: the commercial arm of USA Rugby, called Rugby International Marketing; a daily fantasy company focused on soccer called Mondogoal; and an unnamed private equity firm that’s looking for sports media opportunities.

“The specific focus I have that is unique is that I am bringing a lot of global experience to this undertaking,” he said. “Where I think I can add real value is in helping U.S.-based properties to expand their reach internationally while working with their national content owners to find distribution here in the States.”

That international experience comes from an 11-year stint during which he ran Fox Sports’ international networks followed by a three-year run overseeing Universal Sports Network. In the spring of 2013, he moved his family to England to run Manchester United’s media operations, leaving that job at the end of the 2014-15 EPL season because his family wanted to move back to the United States.

Sternberg is setting up his shop at a time when the sports media landscape is going through significant changes. Cable sports channels such as ESPN are losing subscribers from the cord-cutting and cord-shaving trends. Plus, leagues and networks increasingly are looking to launch direct-to-consumer, over-the-top services that bypass cable and broadcast TV.

“Over-the-top is here. Sports hasn’t been the driver of it, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to arrive there,” Sternberg said. “In a lot of international markets, the nontraditional, digital platforms are already becoming serious players in the sports landscape.”

He cited, for example, Hong Kong’s LeTV Sports, which picked up EPL rights last week, and New Zealand’s Coliseum Sports Media, which is competing for sports media rights with Sky Television.

“There will be a Netflix of sports, whether it’s ESPN themselves or somebody else,” Sternberg said. “That’s the part that remains to be seen.”

These new media markets that are developing give smaller leagues more opportunities than they had in the past, when if they wanted distribution they typically would have to do a time buy on a broadcast network or fully distributed cable channel.

“Now, you can maybe do that for a small part of your inventory — maybe for your crown-jewel event,” Sternberg said. “But you can also build your own streaming platform and smartphone/connected-device app. If you know how to market digitally and you can work with the app stores to increase the visibility of it, you can find your audience there. The middlemen are relatively less powerful.”

— John Ourand