Paley Dialogues

Sports Television: Winning the Game of Disruption

May 20, 2015
7:30 – 9:00 AM
New York

Disruption in the television industry, as well as viewer engagement on social media and across multiple platforms, have created many opportunities for network sports organizations. While some other media executives may be playing defense against disruption, sports is viewed by many to be the “winning-est” business in media. In a session moderated by Richard Deitsch, Senior Editor, Sports Illustrated, the Heads of Sports from CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBC discussed the future of broadcast sports as business models change. Among the highlights: negotiating broadcast rights; monetizing content; carriage fees; over-the-top streaming; new distribution channels, i.e. Amazon and Netflix; strategies to attract and retain millennial viewers; utilizing technology to enhance the viewer experience; and new revenue streams.


Mark LazarusMark Lazarus
Chairman, NBC Sports Group
Mark Lazarus was named Chairman, NBC Sports Group on May 19, 2011, and oversees NBC Sports Group’s multi-platform portfolio of assets. NBC Sports Group consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel (including Golf Now), 10 NBC Sports Regional Networks, two regional news networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes,,, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld and the NBC Sports Talk franchise. Lazarus manages partnerships with many of the most prestigious properties in sports, including the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, PGA TOUR, PGA of America, Premier League, Notre Dame, Churchill Downs and many more. Lazarus was integral in NBCUniversal’s recent acquisition of media rights to six Olympic Games, ensuring NBCUniversal is the U.S. home of the Olympics through 2032; its landmark 10-year agreement with NASCAR starting in July 2015; its nine-year NFL agreement; and its 10-year agreement with the NHL. Among the highlights of Lazarus’ leadership, “Sunday Night Football” became the most-watched and highest-rated primetime show for three consecutive September-May television seasons (2011-14), and is on pace for a fourth consecutive #1 finish, unprecedented for a sports series; Super Bowl XLIX, the thrilling four-point New England Patriots victory over the Seattle Seahawks became the most-watched show in U.S. TV history with an average of 114.4 million viewers; Super Bowl XLVI ranked as the most-watched program in U.S. television history at the time; the 2012 London Olympic Games were the most-watched event in U.S. television history, with more than 217 million viewers; and the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games won 18 consecutive nights in primetime, a first for a Winter Olympics. Prior to being named Chairman, Lazarus was responsible for all NBC Sports Group cable assets as President, NBC Sports Cable Group. He served as president of Media and Marketing for CSE prior to his roles at NBC Sports Group, and led the agency’s sports and entertainment Media and Marketing divisions. Lazarus was president of Turner Entertainment Group prior to joining CSE. In this capacity, he oversaw all aspects of Turner Entertainment Networks, which included Turner Sports, TBS, Turner Network Television (TNT), Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and truTV; as well as The Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media unit, including Cartoon Network, Cartoon Network Studios, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Previously, he served as President of Turner Sports from 1999 to 2003. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Lazarus is on the Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Lake Foundation and Compass Diversified Holdings.


Sean McManusSean McManus
Chairman, CBS Sports

Sean McManus was named Chairman, CBS Sports, in February 2011 overseeing all sports properties across all CBS Sports operations. He also serves as Executive Producer of THE NFL ON CBS. McManus served concurrently as President, CBS News and Sports for more than five years prior to being named Chairman. He was named President, CBS Sports, in November 1996 and President, CBS News, in October 2005 and is only the second person to hold both Division titles simultaneously; Roone Arledge held both at ABC from 1977-86. As president of CBS Sports, McManus led the CBS Corporation’s efforts in acquiring broadcast rights to the National Football League in January 1998, and in November 2004 with Leslie Moonves, re-negotiated the contract to retain the rights for CBS until 2011. In May 2009, McManus, again with Moonves, re-negotiated the NFL contract to retain the rights for CBS through the 2013-14 season and included CBS broadcasting Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013. And in December 2011, McManus, with Moonves, re-negotiated a nine-year deal to retain the NFL broadcast rights through the 2022 season. In February 2014, McManus, with Moonves, negotiated the rights for the NFL’s new Thursday Night Football package for the 2014 season. And in January 2015, he, with Moonves, again successfully negotiated a deal to continue the partnership for 2015. During McManus' more than 18 years as Chairman and President of the Division, CBS Sports has become the year-round leader in network sports television. In November 1999, he led CBS to an unprecedented landmark agreement with the NCAA which extended the exclusive over-the-air broadcast rights, as well as rights to the Internet, marketing and corporate sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, cable television, radio, satellite, digital and home video to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship until 2014. The 11-year pact was the most comprehensive sports agreement in history. In April 2010, together with Moonves, he negotiated a landmark deal, partnering with Turner Broadcasting, to extend the rights to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship through 2024. The $10.8 billion deal is the most extensive and far-reaching network-cable sports deal ever created. Under McManus, CBS News won more major awards than any other network’s news division, including one of electronic journalism’s most prestigious honors for an innovative, division-wide news initiative that he personally conceived and oversaw, “CBS REPORTS: Children of the Recession.” All told, the CBS News Division under McManus won three DuPont Awards, 19 Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards and 29 RTDNA/Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Eric ShanksEric Shanks
President, COO & Executive Producer, FOX Sports

Eric Shanks is President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports, overseeing all linear and digital efforts for the group, including FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Regional Networks, FOX Deportes, all digital ventures and all sports carried on the FOX broadcast network. He is believed to be the youngest president of a broadcast network sports division when named to the post in June 2010 at age 38. Shanks was a driving force behind the historic and successful launch of FOX Sports 1, America’s fastest-growing sports network, and FOX Sports 2, in August 2013. In addition to production, the six-time Emmy Award-winner and a member of the Sports Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” Hall of Fame oversees programming, field and studio operations, marketing, promotion, communications, business and legal affairs. Shanks also directs all aspects of FOX Sports’ television investments and partnerships. In addition, he spearheads the division’s strategy of pursuing major event programming to ensure FOX Sports’ position as a premier network sports broadcaster. Shanks served as executive vice president for entertainment for DIRECTV from 2004 to 2010, overseeing business activities related to the development of DIRECTV’s original entertainment, advanced products and advertising sales. He originally joined DIRECTV in 2004 from FOX as senior vice president of Advanced Services and Content. Prior to joining DIRECTV, Shanks served as a producer at FOX Sports and as vice president of Enhanced Programming for FOX Television Networks. Shanks also served as Executive Producer of Sky Sports 1 & 2 where he launched Sky TV’s soccer coverage in Italy.

John SkipperJohn Skipper
President, ESPN, Inc.; Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks

Since taking the helm as ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks on January 1, 2012, John Skipper has secured ESPN’s leadership position in the crowded sports media landscape into the next decade with bold moves and a commitment to live championship events delivered across every available platform, including a rapidly growing focus on digital and mobile applications. Skipper has charged the ESPN workforce “to think like an insurgent and not like an incumbent” as they continue to fulfill the company’s mission “to serve sports fans anytime, anywhere.” Skipper holds bachelor’s and master's degrees in English Literature from the University of North Carolina and Columbia University, respectively. He joined ESPN in 1997 and had served as executive vice president, content, prior to being named president.

Richard DeitschModerator: Richard Deitsch
Senior Editor, Sports Illustrated

Richard Deitsch is a writer and editor at Sports Illustrated, and He has covered seven Olympic Games, NCAA championships and Super Bowls, and worked for nearly every division of SI, including the Swimsuit Issue, SI For Women and SI For Kids. His specialties include sports media, women's athletics, tennis and the Olympics. Deitsch spent the 2008-09 academic year studying as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he examined the intersection of 20-somethings and the sports blogosphere. He is a frequent guest on sports-talk stations around the country and has appeared on the CBS Evening News, CNN, Fox News, Good Morning America, MSNBC, NPR and the PBS News Hour. Deitsch has a B.A. in Communications and Political Science from the University at Buffalo and an M.S. from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where he works as an adjunct professor, teaching sports journalism. He has won a number of writing awards and in 2012 named him as one of the “11 Sports Writers You Need to Follow on Twitter." Deitsch is married, lives in Manhattan, and always wishes the best for Buffalo's snakebitten sports teams.


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