Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 13

Power Players

Regional sports networks are among the most profitable groups at companies like Comcast and 21st Century Fox. They have proved to be such good business that teams have launched their own RSNs or taken equity positions in existing ones. RSNs also represent some of the strongest bonds that fans have with their teams.

But the same problems that are affecting national sports media channels have come to the RSNs. The combination of rising rights fees and falling subscriber numbers has led to a burgeoning business around RSNs, made up of leagues, consultants, talent and technical providers.

In the final Power Players recognition for 2017, SportsBusiness Journal staff writer John Ourand highlights the executives, consultants and on-air talent who are out front in leading RSNs through this period of media disruption.

EXECUTIVES

Jeff Krolik, Fox Sports Regional Networks 
Michael Connelly, Fox Sports Networks
Billy Chambers, Fox Sports Media Group
Kyle Sherman and Craig Sloan, Home Team Sports
Steve Tello, Fox Sports Florida / Sun
Jeff Genthner, Fox Sports South / Carolinas, Tennessee / Southeast
Lindsay Amstutz, Fox Sports West / San Diego / Prime Ticket
Randy Levine, New York Yankees, and Jon Litner, YES Network
Tony Petitti, MLB
Tom Werner, Boston Red Sox
Philip Garvin, Mobile TV Group
Andrea Greenberg, MSG Networks
Sean McGrail, New England Sports Network
Scott Moore, Rogers Spotsnet
Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks
David Proper, NHL
Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs
David Preschlack, NBC Sports Regional Networks
Ted Griggs, NBC Sports Regional Networks
Bill Bridgen, NBC Sports Regional Networks
Princell Hair, NBC Sports Boston
Brian Monihan, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Bill Bell, NBC Sports Washington
John Angelos, Baltimore Orioles
Bill Koenig, NBA
Steve Raab, SportsNet New York
Patrick Crumb, AT&T Sports Networks
Shawn McClintock, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
Mike Bair, Spectrum Networks
Zach Leonsis, Monumental Sports Network

ON-AIR TALENT

Mike Krukow and Dale Kuiper, NBC Sports Bay Area
Jim Palmer, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
Jim Petersen, Fox Sports North
Keith Hernandez, SportsNet New York
Tommy Heinsohn, NBC Sports Boston
Eddie Olczyk, NBC Sports Chicago
Brian Anderson, Fox Sports Wisconsin
Walt Frazier, MSG Network
Daryl Reaugh, Fox Sports Southwest
Dennis Eckersley, New England Sports Network

CONSULTANTS

Chris Bevilacqua, Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures
Steve Greenberg, Allen & Co.
Ed Desser, Desser Sports Media
Alan Gold, Evolution Media Capital
Lee Berke, LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media


Photo by: TONY FLOREZ PHOTOGRAPHY
JEFF KROLIK

President

Fox Sports Regional Networks

A longtime veteran of the RSN business, Krolik runs the largest owned-and-operated RSN group in the country — 22 channels that hold the rights to 44 NBA, NHL and MLB teams. Krolik, who spent 10 years running the San Francisco Bay Area RSN (1995-2007), now oversees one of the two largest profit drivers in the 21st Century Fox portfolio.

Photo by: FRANK MICELOTTA
MICHAEL CONNELLY

Senior vice president and executive producer
Fox Sports Networks

The fact that Fox Sports is able to maintain a level of consistency across its 44 professional sports teams comes down to Connelly. Working for a company that prizes on-screen innovation like the Fox Box, Connelly’s production charge has the flexibility to allow Fox’s RSNs to incorporate local flair while keeping a national look and feel.

Photo by: FOX SPORTS
BILLY CHAMBERS

Executive vice president of finance
Fox Sports Media Group

Chambers is the executive who shows the most financial discipline for Fox Sports’ local rights deals. He’s in just about every rights negotiation for Fox’s RSNs — more than 30 of them — and has been instrumental as the deals have become complex, often offering equity to teams.

Kyle Sherman
Photo by: FRANK MICELOTTA
Craig Sloan
Photo by: RAY BAHRAMI / BRIAN ORELLANA


Kyle Sherman

President
Home Team Sports

Craig Sloan

Executive vice president
Home Team Sports

RSNs used to be an afterthought for advertisers’ national budgets. Sherman and Sloan changed that thinking, positioning RSNs front and center, offering advertisers a one-stop shop for a national buy. With every RSN in the country as clients — even non-Fox networks — they have stitched together a national footprint of RSNs. Owned by Fox Sports, HTS is unique, and no one can compete with its reach.

Photo by: SUCRE REYES
STEVE TELLO

Senior vice president and general manager
Fox Sports Florida / Sun

A one-time producer of “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings, this new chapter of Tello’s career has him branching beyond news production to managing two networks and coverage of six professional teams in the all-important Florida market. The top of Tello’s to-do list is working on a new TV deal with the recently sold Miami Marlins.

Photo by: JESSICA COX / FOX SPORTS SOUTH
JEFF GENTHNER

Senior vice president and general manager
Fox Sports South / Carolinas / Tennessee / Southeast

Genthner handles a challenging post where he oversees the ACC’s nationally syndicated RSN package of 144 annual events and coverage of eight professional teams spanning seven states. It is a daunting task to oversee half a dozen feeds that go out on any given night across four RSNs with around 13 million subscribers throughout the South, and Genthner manages it effortlessly.

Photo by: FOX SPORTS
LINDSAY AMSTUTZ

Senior vice president and general manager
Fox Sports West / San Diego and Prime Ticket

One of only two women to run an RSN in the United States, Amstutz worked her way up from marketing director to running Fox Sports’ Southern California channels. Two years ago, Amstutz started a mentoring and support group called Women of Fox Sports, an organization that is growing in importance and relevance at Fox, especially in light of recent events.

Randy Levine
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Jon Litner
Photo by: E.H. WALLOP / YES NETWORK
RANDY LEVINE

President
New York Yankees

JON LITNER

President
YES Network

Under the direction of Levine and Litner, YES Network has been integrated seamlessly into Fox’s portfolio of RSNs, becoming a cornerstone business for Fox Sports. Smart and tenacious, Levine has been successful protecting the Yankee brand. Given his previous role overseeing the NBC Sports RSNs, Litner has more combined experience as an operator of an individual RSN and an overseer of an RSN group than anyone in the business.

Photo by: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
TONY PETITTI

Chief operating officer
Major League Baseball

A former executive with CBS, NBC and ABC, Petitti has a deep knowledge of the media business. One RSN executive described the relationship between MLB and its networks as being at a “high-water mark,” a position that was credited to the way Petitti deals with networks. The league office takes more of a laissez-faire approach when it comes to RSN deals, waiting for its legal department to weigh in on topics like fair market value. If negotiations hit a snag, Petitti will get involved.

Photo by: COURTESY OF BOSTON RED SOX
TOM WERNER

Chairman
Boston Red Sox

A legend in the television business by producing shows such as “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne,” Werner was part of the Red Sox’s new ownership group in 2001. Even with his storied television background, Werner gives NESN CEO and President Sean McGrail a lot of autonomy to run the network. But that does not stop Werner from knowing the minutiae of the network’s ratings performance and staying in the middle of the network’s talent decisions.

PHILIP GARVIN

General manager and co-owner
Mobile TV Group

Garvin runs a 23-year-old business that helps RSNs cut costs. The company supplies the production trucks for every RSN — covering 4,000 events per year — which enables them to share production resources. The Denver-based group pioneered the “dual feed,” which lets it produce two separate productions from one production truck system.

Photo by: COURTESY OF MSG
ANDREA GREENBERG

CEO and president
MSG Networks

Greenberg has made a career at the Garden, starting at the Cablevision subsidiary Rainbow Media in 1983 and moving to the Cablevision-owned MSG Entertainment in 2008. MSG was spun off from Cablevision in 2010. Greenberg now oversees two RSNs — MSG Network and MSG+ — which carry 500 live professional games a year and hold the rights to the New York Knicks, Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

Photo by: MICHAEL IVINS FOR NESN
SEAN McGRAIL

CEO and president
New England Sports Network

McGrail has been with NESN since the beginning, joining the RSN’s affiliate marketing group in 1985 and becoming the RSN’s president in 2000. Extremely well liked by Red Sox principal owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner, McGrail has grown the network into a behemoth covering all of New England. Last month, the longtime executive was named a Cable TV Pioneer by the cable industry.

Photo by: COURTESY OF ROGERS SPORTSNET
SCOTT MOORE

President of Sportsnet and NHL properties
Rogers Communications

The president of Sportsnet since 2010, Moore has grown the sports channel on the back of a 12-year deal for NHL rights. Moore has a two-decade history in Canadian sports media as an executive who has launched five networks and a producer who has the Olympics and Stanley Cup Final among the high-profile events on his résumé.

Photo by: SARAH SACHS / ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
DERRICK HALL

CEO and president
Arizona Diamondbacks

Described by colleagues as smart and sophisticated, Hall took the lead in negotiations to sign a long-term deal with Fox Sports two years ago, a deal the team called the largest financial transaction in franchise history. During the negotiations, Hall developed a deep understanding of the media business. He’s had an exemplary career in sports between the Dodgers organization, where he spent 12 seasons, and the Diamondbacks.

Photo by: MELYNDA PILON / NHL
DAVID PROPER

Executive vice president of media and international strategy
NHL

A relatively new face on the RSN scene, Proper has become a more significant figure in the halls of the NHL. RSN executives expect Proper’s role to increase as more rights deals get signed. Several executives noted that Proper’s demeanor during the Vegas Golden Knights negotiation was helpful to arrive at a resolution that turned out well for all parties.

Photo by: CHICAGO CUBS
CRANE KENNEY

President of business operations
Chicago Cubs

All sports media eyes are on Kenney, as the Chicago Cubs’ media rights deal with NBC Sports Chicago ends in 2020. Kenney has the support of the team’s chairman and owner, Tom Ricketts, who has entrusted Kenney to lead the negotiations, which already have started. In the meantime, Kenney is testing Cubs programming with digital providers like Facebook, which carried four regular-season games last season.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
DAVID PRESCHLACK

President
NBC Sports Regional Networks

Less than two years after NBC Sports hired Preschlack to oversee its RSN business, the former ESPN executive has quickly become one of the most respected executives at NBC. Preschlack has gained a reputation as a change agent, renaming his RSNs, tapping new leaders in important markets and pushing for a new programming approach that better incorporates digital media.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
TED GRIGGS

President of group and strategic production and programming
NBC Sports Regional Networks

Griggs has a stellar reputation as a top-notch producer, gained from his time running NBC Sports Bay Area / California. A year ago, he took a more corporate job with the company, overseeing programming and production for all the RSNs. He’s led the charge to get NBC Sports’ RSNs to focus less on news and highlights for the linear networks and more on creating programming that moves across platforms.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
BILL BRIDGEN

President and group leader
NBC Sports Regional Networks

A business-minded executive, NBC Sports has tapped Bridgen to handle some of its trickiest negotiations. For example, Bridgen took the lead in developing an OTT service in Portland for a select number of Blazers games. He’s also taking the lead in Chicago, where NBC Sports Group has started important renewal talks with the Cubs, whose current rights deal ends in 2020.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
PRINCELL HAIR

Senior vice president and general manager
NBC Sports Boston

Hair parlayed a job where he negotiated the rights for all of NBC Sports Group’s talent agreements into running the RSN in Boston. His current focus has been keeping NBC Sports Boston fully engaged in covering all Boston sports, rather than focusing solely on the Celtics, whose broadcast rights the network holds.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
BILL BELL

Executive producer, live events
NBC Sports Washington

A leader in local sports productions in Washington, D.C., Bell has been producing games for NBC Sports Washington since 1987, when the RSN was called Home Team Sports. Bell led production for Capitals and Wizards games, and Redskins preseason games, as executive producer.

Photo by: LEN REDKOLES
BRIAN MONIHAN

President and general manager
NBC Sports Philadelphia

The dean of NBC Sports’ RSN general managers, Monihan brings a passion to his job befitting someone who was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love. With an ad sales background, Monihan’s job is especially important considering that Philadelphia is the home market for NBC Sports parent Comcast.

Photo by: TODD OLSZEWSKI / BALTIMORE ORIOLES
JOHN ANGELOS

Partner, chief operating officer and executive vice president
Baltimore Orioles

Angelos oversees all aspects of Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s business, from negotiating carriage deals with cable operators to ad sales to programming. MASN launched in 2005 as one of the most lopsided deals in sports TV history, with Angelos gaining control of the media rights to the Orioles’ closest geographic rival, the Washington Nationals, a position that makes Angelos one of the most influential RSN executives in the country.

Photo by: JENNIFER POTTHEISER / NBAE
BILL KOENIG

President of global content and media distribution
NBA

The most active league executive in the RSN business, Koenig understands the media game better than anybody in the NBA league office. He knows the TV profiles of all 30 teams, and frequently steps in to mediate between teams and RSNs in ways that are helpful to both. Koenig is described by several RSN executives as a tough but fair negotiator; someone who is a tough defender of the league’s positions.

Photo by: TYLER HORVATH / SNY
STEVE RAAB

President
SportsNet New York

The longest-tenured RSN president in New York City, Raab’s SNY has set the standard for a local channel’s baseball production, both in the booth and the production truck. One of the sharpest executives in the business, Raab has stayed ahead of the curve with technology, signing one of the first RSN deals with MLB Advanced Media a decade ago.

Photo by: JERRY PETERSEN
PATRICK CRUMB

President
AT&T Sports Networks

Crumb, who oversees four high-performing RSNs, led a charge to rebrand three of them from Root Sports to AT&T SportsNet earlier this year. Under his leadership, AT&T has proved to be a good operator with good teams — its Houston RSN has a deal with the World Series-winning Astros. Crumb, who has a legal background, came to AT&T from DirecTV, where he was the head of DirecTV Sports Networks and negotiated rights deals with teams such as the Pirates, Penguins, Rockies and Jazz.

SHAWN McCLINTOCK

Executive vice president and general manager
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh

McClintock oversees an RSN that posts some of the country’s highest local sports ratings thanks to the popularity of its two main tenants: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates. The Penguins posted the highest local TV rating in the NHL from 2010-15; in MLB, the Pirates generally post one of the highest ratings even in years when the team struggles.

Photo by: SPECTRUM NETWORKS
MIKE BAIR

Executive vice president
Spectrum Networks

A longtime RSN executive, Bair got his start overseeing eight RSNs in 1990 with AMC Networks, and even hired Jeff Krolik to run the San Francisco RSN in 1995. At Spectrum, he runs a department of 1,500 people focused on local news and sports, underscoring Bair’s passion for hyperlocal programming.

Photo by: NED DISHMAN
ZACH LEONSIS

General manager
Monumental Sports Network

Leonsis oversees a true over-the-top digital network that focuses on local sports, producing live events from the WNBA, AFL, minor league hockey and local high schools as part of subscription-based service launched by Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Leonsis was part of the talks last year that set up a long-term partnership with NBC Sports Washington, with NBC Sports Group taking an equity interest in the OTT service and Monumental taking an equity interest in the RSN.

Mike Krukow (left) and Duane Kuiper just completed their 24th season of broadcasts.
MIKE KRUKOW

and

DUANE KUIPER

NBC Sports Bay Area

Krukow and Kuiper have a bond with the city of San Francisco that is as strong as any broadcast duo in the country. Having met as Giants teammates in 1983, the two are the closest of friends, which comes through on television. TV producers have Krukow and Kuiper in mind when they say they are looking for announcers that viewers wish they were having a beer with while watching the game.

JIM PALMER

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network

A Hall of Fame pitcher who spent his entire career with the Orioles, Palmer has been the Orioles’ top TV voice for the past 16 seasons. Palmer sees the game as well as any analyst, and never has shied away from being critical of the hometown nine. Earlier in his career, Palmer was part of what some have called the best three-man baseball booth when he was partnered with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver at ABC Sports.

Photo by: FOX SPORTS NORTH
JIM PETERSEN

Fox Sports North

Described by one producer as the best analyst in the NBA that no one knows about, Petersen’s loose demeanor and ability to communicate allow him to play the role of both broadcaster and coach. A former WNBA assistant coach, Petersen does not take himself too seriously, which helps make his broadcasts stand out.

Photo by: MARC LEVINE / SNY
KEITH HERNANDEZ

SportsNet New York

Highly popular from his “Seinfeld” guest appearances in the 1990s, Hernandez is a rare broadcaster who can combine hardcore baseball knowledge with a charming demeanor. Hernandez, who played on two World Series champion teams, can effortlessly move conversation from a Mets game, to a story about having coffee in Sag Harbor, to the Civil War.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
TOMMY HEINSOHN

NBC Sports Boston

In a city overrun with basketball legends, Heinsohn stands out. The 83-year-old is a Hall of Famer as a player and coach and shows a ton of passion on Celtics telecasts. Heinsohn’s calls combine humor with analysis befitting someone who both played for (1956-65) and coached (1969-78) the Celtics.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS GROUP
EDDIE OLCZYK

NBC Sports Chicago

One producer says Olczyk may be the best analyst in hockey. He played the game at a high level for six teams, and speaks with an authority that viewers trust. Olczyk is revered in Chicago, where he spent five seasons with the Blackhawks, as the team and fans rally around him in his battle with colon cancer.

Photo by: MSG PHOTOS
WALT FRAZIER

MSG Network

As charismatic and colorful as an analyst as he was a player, Frazier personifies Mr. Basketball and delights his audience in New York, where he starred for the Knicks in the 1960s and ’70s and helped raise the game’s profile in the Big Apple. Known for his inimitable fashion sense, the Hall of Famer began his broadcasting career with TBS before moving to MSG in 1987.

Photo by: SCOTT PAULUS / MILWAUKEE BREWERS
BRIAN ANDERSON

Fox Sports Wisconsin

Anderson possesses one of MLB’s best play-by-play voices, with an on-air demeanor that is relaxed and warm and provides an easy listen to the Brewers broadcast. One producer describes his style as always focused, adding that he does not step on the game. Anderson’s cachet is such that he has been pursued by many other MLB teams and networks.

Photo by: GLENN JAMES / DALLAS STARS
DARYL REAUGH

Fox Sports Southwest

One of the only former players to move over to the play-by-play position, Reaugh knows the game of hockey as well as anyone. Calling the action for the Dallas Stars, he is able to educate novice fans and entertain the beer league players in the same telecast. A former goalie, he sees the game clearly and is able to articulate what is happening.

Photo by: COURTESY OF JENNIFER ECKERSLEY
DENNIS ECKERSLEY

New England Sports Network

A Hall of Famer who talks openly about past addictions during his career, Eckersley has a deep knowledge of the game that he easily conveys to viewers. He is an honest and outspoken analyst, which sparked a public spat this season with Red Sox pitcher David Price, but that candidness has made him a favorite throughout New England.

CHRIS BEVILACQUA

Co-founder
Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures

One of the hardest workers in the business, Bevilacqua is an effective advocate for his clients’ interests. RSNs make up about a third of BHV’s business, including the Washington Nationals and a co-advisory deal with Evolution Media Capital for the Chicago Cubs, whose media rights expire in 2020. Bevilacqua also has represented the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres in recent deals.

Allen & Co.’s Steve Greenberg (right) with New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon
Photo by: COURTESY OF STEVE GREENBURG
STEVE GREENBERG

Managing director
Allen & Co.

The dean of media consultants, Greenberg has the respect of every side in a negotiation: the league, the team and the network. Smart, patient and honest, Greenberg has a true gravitas when it comes to these negotiations, which have included the St. Louis Cardinals, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards in the past two years.

Ed Desser and wife Eydie outside Staples Center
Photo by: LEA BARRY PORTER
ED DESSER

President
Desser Sports Media

Desser’s career spans the launch and growth of the RSN business in the United States. Over this time, he has worked at one time or another with almost every RSN in the business. As president of Desser Sports Media, he has negotiated more than 50 team deals worth around $27 billion, including Time Warner Cable’s transactions with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers.

Photo by: MAX S. GERBER
ALAN GOLD

Principal and head of sports media
Evolution Media Capital

Gold has been the key figure in driving a business that has negotiated
$38 billion of sports media deals since 2010. Gold has established himself as a power player in the space and is under consideration for any team looking to sell its media rights. Recent deals include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Memphis Grizzlies and Vegas Golden Knights.

Photo by: NANCY BERKE
LEE BERKE

President and CEO
LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media

A longtime media executive, Berke got his start heading up marketing for MSG Network. He now runs a consultancy business that has picked up more than 40 clients since its 2001 launch, including the San Francisco Giants, who he assisted in their media rights deal with NBC Sports Bay Area, and University of Oklahoma athletics, who he advised during the launch of Sooner Sports TV.