Speakers include A-List keynote speakers and a host of expert panellists from across the OTT ecosystem including…
Chief Strategy Officer
Executive Vice President, North America
Joseph Markowski serves as Executive Vice President at DAZN, overseeing Partnerships, Rightsholder Activation, Marketing, Communications and Strategy for the North American business.
In 2018, Markowski orchestrated the commercial and operational launch of DAZN in the United States. Under his guidance, DAZN became an immediate player in the media landscape by challenging the combat sports pay-per-view model and offering fights from Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, Bellator MMA and others at a low subscription price. In March 2018, DAZN expanded into the big four sports American leagues by launching ChangeUp, a nightly MLB whiparound show featuring live look-ins from all 30 teams.
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.
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Smith first worked within Matchroom as a 14-year-old on work experience, and started full time in September 2008 after he left school.
Having worked across many of the sports that Matchroom promote, Smith joined the Boxing department full-time in 2011 and worked his way through the ranks to assume the post of CEO in April 2018.
Smith was appointed to the main board of the group’s parent company, Matchroom Sport, in December 2018.
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.
Head of Content Partnerships
VP, Business Operations & Strategy
Samir Mayur joined the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena in 2018. In his role as Vice President of Business Operations and Strategy, he focuses on developing and executing the short and long term strategy across the NBA franchise. Additionally, he oversaw the launch of the Hawks Talon GC (2K League) and College Park Skyhawks (G League) franchises.
Previously, Samir was the Director of Business Operations with the Houston Astros. He also served as a co-founder of TLA Worldwide, a publicly listed sports marketing and player representation agency.
Prior to entering the sports industry, Samir worked in venture capital at VantagePoint Venture Partners and in investment banking at Morgan Stanley.
He holds a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Head of U.S. Content Partnerships
Laura leads U.S. Content Partnerships at Twitter, bringing exceptional content from Sports, News and Entertainment publishers to the most valuable audiences when they’re most receptive, while driving business results for these strategic partners and Twitter. Prior to joining Twitter in February 2014, she spent five years at CBS Interactive devising product marketing and monetization strategies for premium sports content including NCAA March Madness, NFL and college football, The Masters, PGA Tour golf, as well as the suite of fantasy games from CBSSports.com. Her efforts led to multiple years of record-setting revenues for the properties. Prior to CBS, Laura focused her career in sales and marketing at such notable publishers as CNET, Ziff-Davis, and Condé Nast. Laura is a graduate of Brown University where she received a BA in International Relations. Follow her on Twitter at @laurafrofro.
Senior VP, Media Rights
Daniel Cohen, Senior Vice President of Octagon’s Global Media Rights Consulting division, is a leading sports media rights expert providing strategic consultation to major domestic and international rights holders, broadcasters, emerging distribution platforms and the sports investment community. Cohen’s focus is on delivering media rights valuations and developing content distribution strategies for Octagon’s media clients. A recognized industry executive with a passion for building businesses at the cross sections of sports, media and technology, Cohen leverages IPG and Octagon’s proprietary data, research, analytics, and technology and leads a global consulting team that advises on over $950m in media rights fees across five continents.Prior to joining Octagon, Cohen held Managing Partner and Senior Vice President positions at MP & Silva America and Bloomberg Sports. At MP & Silva, Cohen launched their New York office to expand rights business opportunities across the Americas.
Cohen serves on the board of NYVC Sports, All Star Committee of Harlem RBI and USHMM Next Generation. Committed to fostering future generations of talent, Cohen speaks as a guest lecturer on sports media and business at New York University and Columbia University.
Cohen is a graduate of George Washington University. In 2014, he was a recipient of SportsPro Media’s 10 NEXT Leaders in Sport, recognizing exceptional individuals in the sports industry under 30. Sports Business Journal named Cohen to their Forty Under 40 Class of 2019, honoring the accomplishments of executives under 40. He resides in New Jersey with his wife.
Arnon de Mello
Senior VP & Managing Director, LATAM
As Senior Vice President & Managing Director, NBA Latin America, Arnon de Mello oversees the development and expansion of the NBA’s business and basketball initiatives throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. He directs all of the league’s efforts in the region across marketing partnerships, events, television, digital media and licensed merchandise through a dedicated Latin America team with headquarters in New York City and two local offices in Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City.
Since joining the NBA in 2012 as Vice President and Managing Director, NBA Brazil, de Mello launched the NBA’s regional office in Rio de Janeiro and oversaw the continued growth of the business in Brazil. As part of his efforts to grow the game, he directed key strategic partnerships, including with Globo, Televisa, and Liga Nacional de Basquete (LNB), grew the league’s local sponsorship business, successfully launched the NBA’s e-commerce presence in Brazil, and brought the game closer to fans through programs such as NBA Global Games, Basketball without Borders, and Jr. NBA.
Head of Sports Production
Melissa Lawton is responsible for Live Sports Production Strategy at Facebook (Meta). 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mark Shuken is a widely respected media, sports, and entertainment leader with a track record of driving business results at both major established and emerging sports networks. As President of Pac-12 Networks, Shuken is responsible for leading the country’s first national television network to be wholly owned by institutions of higher education.
Shuken brings to Pac-12 Networks two decades of experience in growing revenue, distribution, and overall value for sports networks. His prior leadership roles include running sports networks for major media companies such as Time Warner Cable, where he led the creation of three regional sports networks for the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Dodgers and LA Galaxy, as well as DirecTV, Liberty Media, and Fox Sports, including having worked directly with many Pac-12 universities.
Throughout his career, Shuken has developed a reputation as an engaging and driven leader with an entrepreneurial spirit befitting the president of a first of its kind sports network like Pac-12 Networks. He is experienced in developing and driving successful strategies in collaboration with key media stakeholders across all areas of the sports media industry, including content, production, programming, distribution and revenue generation.
SVP, NBC Sports Entertainment & GM, Sports Betting & Gaming
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.
Executive Vice President & General Manager
As executive vice president and general manager of ESPN+, Russell Wolff is responsible for leadership, management and oversight of all aspects of ESPN+, the industry-leading multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN.
In the role, Wolff works with the leadership teams at DTCI and ESPN to drive the ESPN+ business and grow its subscriber base. Wolff drives the collaboration across programming, product development, technology, content, finance and marketing teams in both business segments. He also works closely with teams in both DTCI and ESPN on the overall management and commercialization of ESPN-branded digital products globally.
Lenny Daniels is President of Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of Turner Sports’ day-to-day management including production, programming, scheduling, league relations, business development, ad sales, marketing, digital, talent, events and operations. Appointed to the position in 2014, Daniels also leads the development of Turner’s data infrastructure and business capabilities to grow revenue and consumer insights across all of the brands within the sports portfolio.
Additionally, Daniels leads the overall strategy for the division including acquisitions, programming and expansion of the company’s sports media rights. Turner Sports’ expansive portfolio of premium sports content includes the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, ELEAGUE and professional golf; a digital portfolio including Bleacher Report and B/R Live – Turner Sports’ new premium live streaming service – along with NCAA.com and PGA.com and an accompanying collection of mobile websites and connected device apps. Daniels also guides Turner Sports’ partnership with the NBA to jointly manage NBA Digital and its vast portfolio – NBA TV, the NBA App, NBA League Pass and NBA.com.