50+ sessions, 80 thought leaders, 1000's of your peers
The significant disruption to the sports industry during 2020 has caused a swift adoption of remote broadcast technology, a re-examining of live rights’ values and redesigned commercial strategies. As ever, the epicentre of all this rapid change is the American market.
Analyzing the use of data to engage the fans and keep subscribing to your content, the OTT Summit USA 2021 focused on three main themes – strategy, content, and technology.
2021 headliners included
Head of Sports Production
Melissa Lawton is responsible for Live Sports Production Strategy at Facebook. She’s charged with helping Facebook’s partners redefine the live sports viewing experience to foster deeper and more meaningful connections between fans and the broadcasters, teams, leagues and athletes they follow. In this role, Melissa will design production strategies that inspire partners to fully leverage the interactive and social potential of video on Facebook. She’ll also work closely with the Facebook product team to develop the tools partners need to deliver sports broadcasts for the next generation of fans.
Melissa joined Facebook after five years as the Head of Live Content at Red Bull Media House, working specifically on the creation and expansion of Red Bull’s media network, Red Bull TV. In this capacity, she oversaw a global production team that produced premium, live third-party sports, music and culture events and many ‘beyond the ordinary’ Red Bull competitions across the globe.
Drone Racing League
Rachel Jacobson is the President of the Drone Racing League (DRL), the global, professional drone racing property. She spearheads global partnerships and media rights deals, and leads the marketing and business development teams, bringing to DRL her legacy of creating transformative partnerships with leading sports and technology brands. Prior to DRL, Rachel spent 21 years at the NBA as their SVP of Global Partnerships, where she closed nearly $1 billion in partnership sales and earned numerous accolades including Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award. Most recently, she served as the Chief Business Development Officer at Landit, the market leader in personalized career pathing technology to increase the success and engagement of women and diverse groups in the workplace.
SEVP & Chief Business Officer
As Chief Revenue Officer, Wachtel leads the NHL’s global corporate sponsorship as well as digital and NHL Network advertising sales efforts. Since 2007, Wachtel has consistently delivered tangible results that not only have had a direct positive effect on the League’s fiscal health, but also have elevated the NHL brand to business partners and fans alike.
With the development of new and exciting League assets such as the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Stadium Series, NHL Heritage Classic, NHL All-Star, NHL Awards and NHL Face-Off, Wachtel and his team are challenged with a significantly increased amount of inventory to sell. Wachtel not only rose to this challenge by supporting these newly created assets, but has developed a more creative approach to sales by aggregating inventory across businesses units such as licensing, sponsorship, events, wireless, new media and NHL Clubs.
Since arriving at the NHL, Wachtel has driven more than $500 million to the League and an additional $800 million to NHL Clubs and broadcast rightsholders through new NHL partnerships, including MillerCoors, Molson, Scotiabank, Honda, Bridgestone, Visa, Discover, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons and Enterprise, while successfully completing renewals with long-term partners. The tremendous success of the U.S. partnership business helped in securing broadcast agreements with NBC/Comcast in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada. As part of these agreements, Wachtel spearheaded North American digital sales partnerships with NBC Sports and Rogers for all NHL.com, NHL Network and NHL Mobile ad sales to non-League partners.
Co-founder & CEO
David Gandler is co-founder and CEO of fuboTV, the live TV streaming platform that is transforming how people watch sports, news and entertainment. Under David’s leadership, fuboTV has quickly evolved into a leading virtual MVPD with a focus on innovation.
fuboTV launched in 2015 as a streaming soccer service and today is a sports-first cable TV replacement for the entire family. The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “FUBO” in October 2020.
Popular with cord-cutters, fuboTV is consistently first to market across a number of areas including product and technology (“firsts” include 4K streams, Multiview on Apple TV and live TV recommendations), advertising (launched dynamic ad insertion in January 2018 ahead of most competitors) and content (distribution agreements with 100+ channels and 770+ local network stations in 99% of the U.S.; its own fubo Sports Network with original programming). Forbes named fuboTV to its Next Billion-Dollar Startups list in 2019.
Prior to founding fuboTV, David had a prolific advertising career with more than 15 years of video sales in local broadcast and cable TV within both the general and Hispanic market, including at Scripps Networks Interactive, Time Warner Cable Media Sales and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo Media.
David has been named among Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs (2019), Variety’s Dealmakers (2020, 2019) and Broadcasting & Cable’s Power 100 (2017). He is frequently quoted in major publications and has been a featured speaker at leading industry and banking conferences.
Chief Operations & Strategy Officer
Chris leads Strategy, Technology, and Operations for Major League Baseball. In that role, he is responsible for managing MLB’s technology organization including all on-field baseball systems such as Statcast and Instant Replay and digital consumer products including MLB.tv and At Bat. Chris also leads departments focused on digital content and fan engagement including Marketing and Social Media, Web Content, Special Events, and Design Services.
He is also responsible for MLB’s Strategy and Analytics functions working across all MLB business operations and growing the game on the field with MLB’s Competition Committee.
The former pitcher and team captain at the University of Virginia attended Harvard Business School. Chris is a member of the SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame as a three-time award recipient.
Deputy Commissioner & EVP, Business Affairs
National Lacrosse League
Jessica C. Berman is Deputy Commissioner and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at the National Lacrosse League where she provides strategic direction on all growth initiatives and legal matters facing the NLL. Among her areas of responsibility, Berman oversees human resources, team services, marketing and communications, lacrosse operations, community engagement and the governance of the League. When hired in 2019, she became and continues to be the first female Deputy Commissioner of a men’s professional sports league.
She previously served as VP, Community Development, Culture & Growth at the NHL, and was Executive Director of the NHL Foundation.
EVP, Sports Partnerships & Branded Content
Will Funk is executive vice president of sports partnerships and branded content for Turner Sports. Within this role, Funk oversees sponsorship sales development and integration across Turner Sports’ portfolio of leading brands and league partnerships, which include Bleacher Report, ELEAGUE, the NBA, NCAA, and MLB. He leads a team responsible for driving revenue growth through alternate marketing channels that include licensing, branded content, marketing rights, experiential fan events, and in-store opportunities. With multi-platform coverage spanning NBA All-Star Weekend, the NBA Playoffs, MLB Playoffs, NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, esports championships and other Turner Sports franchises, he is devoted to building out thoughtful marketing activations that deeply engage fans at all touchpoints of their experience.
Since joining Turner Sports in 2002, Funk has spent his time within various sponsorship leadership positions with a keen focus on building out robust activations for partners that drive valuable ROI. He has played a critical role in expanding the suite of brands that make up the NCAA Corporate Champion and Partnership program, with nearly double the number of brands on board since Turner aligned with the NCAA and CBS in 2010. He also led the way with building out new multi-platform environments for brand activations around NBA marquee tentpoles like All-Star Weekend and Opening Week.
Prior to joining Turner, Funk was Senior Director of Global Media Programs at the NBA, where he was responsible for all domestic media sales as well as marketing partner business development. He also worked at Madison Square Garden as an account manager where he was responsible for ad sales and marketing partnerships across MSG, Fox Sports New York, Knicks, Rangers and Radio City Music Hall.
Chief Business Officer
Ezra Kucharz joined DraftKings as chief business officer in October 2017. In this role, Kucharz is responsible for DraftKings’ business and corporate development functions, business strategy, international growth, ad sales, strategic partnerships, live events and digital media, further solidifying the company’s position at the intersection of sports, tech and media. He is an award-winning innovator, leader and entrepreneur bringing transformational growth and scale to numerous organizations.
Prior to DraftKings, Kucharz served as President of CBS Local Digital Media and Special Advisor to CBS CEO leading large scale organizations throughout his tenure. In this role, Kucharz oversaw online and mobile business across CBS Radio’s 115 stations nationwide and concert business and more than two dozen CBS Television stations. During his tenure, Kucharz’s leadership elevated CBS Local to the number one digital organization in broadcast TV and radio. Kucharz has also held several senior-level positions at NBC Universal, founded one of the first online digital sports media companies, Total Sports, and worked for NASA in their Space Shuttle and International Space Station Medical Operations divisions after serving as an Army Officer assigned to the Armor Branch.
Kucharz holds degrees from Boston University, University of Houston and Duke University. Kucharz resides in New Jersey with his wife and kids.
Topics driving the discussions
Outlining the best practices and business models that underpin the broadcast and OTT industry including rights valuation, monetization, and subscription development.
Focusing on the rising consumption of original content and archival footage, as well as best practices for distribution and formats on social media platforms.
Exploring the tech currently helping to deliver content to scale, alongside the innovation that will provide the new standard for user experiences in sports consumption.