Former ESPN Exec Jed Drake Joins SMT as EVP of Emerging Technologies
Former ESPN executive and 15-time Emmy Award winner Jed Drake has joined SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology) as the company’s Executive Vice President of Emerging Technologies. SMT provides live data integration, real-time graphics presentation, and video enhancement solutions for live sports telecasts and live entertainment productions. Drake, who spent more than three decades at ESPN and oversaw several of the network’s most innovative sports-production and technology efforts, will oversee the development and implementation of SMT’s next-generation sports information, graphics presentation, and player tracking systems.
Drake will work closely with the leaders of SMT’s Research and Development, Engineering, and Client Development departments as well as directors of live events and creative teams to build and market SMT’s emerging technology platforms. Particular focus will be on SMT’s data integration products and graphics visualization tools for NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Drake will report directly to SMT founder and CEO Gerard J. Hall and will be one of seven members of SMT’s corporate division.
Drake joined ESPN in 1980, just after the cable network’s first year of operation. Jed quickly built a reputation for over-delivering on virtually every project and property assigned to him, whether tennis, soccer, or baseball. He rose through the sports production ranks from producer, to coordinating producer, to senior coordinating producer to VP of all remote production at ESPN. In the ensuing years, Drake, as Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, was instrumental in helping to build and solidify ESPN’s position as a production leader, driving a variety of innovations for coverage of the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, Monday Night Football, Wimbledon, The Open Championship, the X Games, MLB and the NBA. Drake is perhaps best known for championing the first on-air production use of a Yellow First Down Line system for football and the ESPN K-Zone system for baseball, both Emmy award winners.
Most recently Drake oversaw development of next generation technology systems as ESPN’s Senior Vice President, Product Innovation. This included ESPN Virtual 3, the live virtual three-point line used in NBA and college basketball broadcasts; the Emmy-nominated ESPN Pylon Cam, which debuted August 2015 on Monday Night Football; and live player tracker systems used throughout 2014 season ofMonday Night Football, the 2014 MLS Cup and the 2015 College Football Player National Championship.
“Jed Drake has demonstrated time and again, over many years, that he understands how to harness and apply technology to enhance analysis, story-telling, and the viewer experience,” said SMT founder and CEO Gerard J. Hall. “Jed’s background and work history perfectly aligns with SMT’s corporate Mission Statement. It will be exciting to watch Jed hit the ground running here at SMT. His innovative thinking, tireless work ethic and uncompromising approach to producing high-quality results will push SMT to create and package the next generation of unique tools and visual presentations for the benefit of our clients.”
“Gerard and I have shared a great deal of success over the last 20 plus years. This opportunity to expand our relationship to a full-time collaboration comes at a perfect time in my career,” Jed Drake, SMT’s Executive VP of Emerging Technologies said. “SMT has an incredibly talented team of creative thinkers and brilliant engineers, many of whom I’ve known for some time. SMT is a very special place with an unparalleled track record and reputation for excellence. Our industry is moving very fast, and SMT is going to be the leading disruptor by a large margin. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and I am thrilled to be coming on board.”
Drake graduated from Boston University in 1978 with a bachelor of science in broadcasting/film. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife, Suzy Leech, and daughter, Nicole, and has two grown children, Jed Ryan Drake and Darby Drake.
Hall and Drake have a 25-year working relationship dating back to 1991 when SMT first began providing services to ESPN.
According to Hall, “An accurate history of ESPN would not be complete without at least one chapter dedicated to the positive influence of Jed Drake on the network’s growth and success. His fingerprints are all over the early innovations and successes upon which ESPN built its reputation and distinguished itself from its peers. Jed’s vision and efforts were essential elements of ESPN’s success. Clearly, a person with Jed’s deep and valuable experience can write his own ticket in our industry. SMT is honored that of all the opportunities that were presented to him, Jed has chosen to join our team.”
SMT built its reputation in the United States broadcast and live event production industries as a pioneer, innovator, and best in class provider of live sports data integration and real-time graphics enhancements. Most recently, SMT is at the forefront of the real-time application of object tracking technology in live sports. In addition, SMT designed, developed and supports the official scoring systems, the official statistics systems, and the official on-site live presentation systems for the NBA, the NHL, The PGA TOUR, NASCAR, the CrossFit Games, all four golf majors and all four tennis slams including The US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros, and the Australian Open. SMT has been awarded 20 Emmy Awards, as well as two Telly Awards, a Davey Award and a PromaxBDA award.