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 U.S. Sports
TJ leads all U.S. Sports Partnerships at Twitter, after spending the previous few years managing Twitter’s partnerships with major U.S. sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, and MLB. He is responsible for helping Twitter’s sports partners amplify their global content strategies. TJ has been recognized for his diverse experience and expertise on sports trends across the industry and digital landscape. He is recognized as an authority on digital sports media, with appearances on ESPN, NBA TV, and in the Washington Post. Before joining Twitter in 2012, TJ worked on digital sales and marketing at ESPN where he supported the company’s digital properties, including ESPN.com and WatchESPN. TJ is the chair of Blackbirds (@Blackbirds), Twitter’s employee resource group that celebrates and encourages diverse perspectives, and also a member of Minorities in Sports (MIS). He is also passionate about serving community programs supporting underrepresented youth, including DreamWakers and Harlem R.B.I. TJ is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Follow him on Twitter at @tjay.
SVP, NBC Sports Entertainment & GM, Sports Betting and Gaming
NBC Sports Group
Nicolina O’Rorke was named Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Enterprises and General Manager, Sports Betting and Gaming, NBC Sports Group, in October 2020. She is responsible for the day-to-day sports betting operations for NBC Sports Group, including Rotoworld and the NBC Sports Predictor app, and develops and executes the division’s betting strategy. O’Rorke was named SVP, NBC Sports Enterprises, in December 2019, which is comprised of the division’s new business initiatives, including sports betting, audio and esports. During that time, she led the team working on the deal that established PointsBet as the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports Group.
Prior to her current role, O’Rorke also served as Chief Financial Officer, NBC Sports Regional Networks, since July 2015. The NBC Sports Regional Networks are comprised of nine regional sports networks in top markets across the country. During that time, she was an integral leader on the RSN management team and served as a board member at five of the RSNs, which are joint ventures with team owners from the NBA, MLB and NHL.
O’Rorke joined NBC Sports from NBC News where she served in a variety of senior finance roles since 2009, most recently as Chief Financial Officer, NBC News from 2013 – 2015. There she oversaw finance for all NBC News broadcasts and platforms and was a key member of the leadership team. Prior to joining the News Group, O’Rorke served in various finance positions within the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, most notably working on the acquisition and integration of Oxygen Media. In 2010, she completed General Electric’s Experienced Financial Leadership Program. O’Rorke began her career in investment banking at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (ultimately acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston).
O’Rorke co-leads the NBC Sports Group Women’s Network @ NBCUniversal, an employee resource group dedicated to fostering women’s professional and personal development within the company. In 2019, she was named a Game Changer by SportsBusiness Journal, was named one of CableFAX’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable.
O’Rorke graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and received her MBA from Columbia University. She resides in Larchmont, N.Y., with her husband and their two sons.
President of Business Operations
Danita Johnson, President of Business Operations for D.C. United
Danita Johnson recently joined Major League Soccer club, D.C. United, as their President of Business Operations, making her the first Black President of an MLS Club and only the third woman in league history to serve in this role.
Johnson joins D.C. United with 15 years of experience in the sports industry, including several roles in the WNBA, NBA, and NBA G League, specializing in revenue generation, community programs, and digital media and marketing. Most recently, during her time with the Los Angeles Sparks, Johnson led the organization to a league-best in corporate sponsorship dollars earned and launched the annual #WeAreWomen campaign, which drew a historic attendance of 19,000 to Staples Center for a WNBA game. Additionally, under her leadership, the organization saw a 50% increase in ticket sales from 2014-2017 and led the WNBA in attendance in 2017 and 2019, including a 17.8% increase in fans per game in the 2017 season, her first as President and COO.
Prior to her time in Los Angeles, Johnson developed and led the Ticket Sales and Service department for the Washington Mystics while with Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Johnson also boasts NBA experience with the Los Angeles Clippers and played a pivotal role in launching professional basketball franchises, the Bakersfield Jam.
A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and a graduate of Western Carolina University, Johnson sits on the board of the Share Winter Foundation, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is a WISE Within Mentor.
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.
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.
Chief Operating Officer
Lawrence Epstein serves as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UFC, the world’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization and one of the fastest growing sports brands in the world.
Epstein is responsible for all global business operations and for managing the company’s overall performance and growth. Over the years, he has spearheaded the regulatory efforts for UFC, gaining approval in countries around the world, including most recently France.
Epstein has also played a leadership role in negotiating UFC’s most significant business deals, including the company’s landmark media rights agreements with ESPN and FOX Sports and the sale of UFC to Endeavor, recognized as the largest sale of a sports property in history.
A life-long resident of Nevada, Epstein has been involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations. In 2016, he was named to the board of directors of the National Fitness Foundation, the official charity of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, which develops corporate partnerships to expand youth sport participation in America. In January 2017, he was named a charter member and Vice Chair of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board of directors, which owns and oversees the city’s new 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion dollar-stadium, home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
Epstein holds a Juris Doctorate and a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University and serves on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust and the Vanderbilt Law School Board of Advisors.
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.
SVP, Original Programming & Content Development
Grant Best is a BAFTA and Sports EMMY winning TV producer and director. At DAZN, he is responsible for driving the global sport destination’s original content strategy which includes; ‘The Making Of’ featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, Neymar Jr, Marc Marquez and Anthony Joshua, ‘One Night: Joshua vs. Ruiz’, ‘Parallel Worlds’ and most recently ‘Club Ibiza: The Sessions’. Specialising in premium sport content, Grant produced the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad’ which was awarded the BAFTA for Best Single Documentary in 2018. He joined DAZN following hugely successful stints at BT Sport, ESPN and Sky Sports.
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.