2021 Sports OTT Forum

Speakers

Ben Berchuck, Facebook, Sports Programming & Partnerships

Ben Berchuck joined the Facebook Sports team in 2018 and oversees global programming partnerships and sports content strategy for the social media platform and family of apps.

Berchuck was previously a consultant at Wasserman Media Group where he represented numerous professional and collegiate sports properties in rights negotiations and helped clients launch linear networks and digital platforms. He also advised digital media and technology companies on rights acquisition strategies, sports sponsorships, and other content partnerships.

Prior to Wasserman, Berchuck held multiple positions in marketing and strategic partnerships at Comcast. He is a graduate of Duke University.

Eric Black, NBCUniversal, SVP, Sports & Entertainment Technology

Eric Black is SVP of sports and entertainment technology at NBCUniversal. In this role, he oversees end-to-end technical development and delivery for NBCUniversal Entertainment and the multi-application deployment for all NBC Entertainment brands and NBC Sports and Olympics, as the company prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Super Bowl LVI, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Prior to his current role, Black served as SVP, of U.S. operations and video for Peacock, NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer streaming service from 2019 – 2021. He was responsible for end-to-end operations for Peacock, overseeing video, operations, application development, and delivery, during a pivotal time leading up to the launch of Peacock in April 2020. 

Previously, Black served as SVP and CTO of NBC Sports Group Digital from 2015 – 2019. He managed all IP-delivered platforms for NBC Sports Digital, including its numerous websites, applications, and connected devices. He also oversaw NBC Sports’ Playmaker Media, a separate business which provides end-to-end video support service for companies in need of best-in-class live streaming and VOD solutions.

Under Black’s leadership, NBC Sports Digital and Playmaker Media have streamed some of the most prestigious properties in sports, including six Olympic Games, three Super Bowls, Sunday Night Football – primetime television’s No. 1 show — the National Hockey League, Premier League, National Basketball Association, NASCAR, the Triple Crown, Notre Dame Football, MLB, and the Open Championship, among many others. The systems built by Black have focused on both high concurrent traffic and scale, and now operate on more than 20,000 events per year, resulting in billions of consumed minutes.

In addition to the tens of thousands of events that air each year across NBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Telemundo, NBCUniverso, and NBC Sports Regional networks, Playmaker Media provided streaming video solutions for the Presidential debates and 2016 election coverage for NBC News. The service currently provides end-to-end services for the Olympic Channel, the International Olympic Committee’s global digital platform. In 2017, Black pioneered a partnership between Playmaker and iStreamPlanet, owned by Turner. Together, the two companies delivered digital services for many of sports’ biggest events: Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia; CBS and Turner Sports’ March Madness coverage; Super Bowl LII; and the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

NBC Sports Digital’s streaming coverage of Super Bowl LII peaked at 3.1 million concurrent viewers, making it the largest domestic streaming sports event in history. The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics also set Winter Games records, streaming 1.85 billion live minutes and 2.17 billion total minutes. Telemundo’s World Cup coverage shattered all Spanish language records in the United States, garnering the most live streamed match in Spanish-language history (Mexico v Sweden, 6.9 million live minutes).

A 20+ year veteran of the digital video/live streaming industry, Black and his team were instrumental in NBC Sports Digital’s success during the Rio Olympic Games, which set streaming records with 3.3 billion total minutes, 2.71 billion live minutes, and 100 million unique users. It remains the largest digital event in history.

Black joined NBCUniversal as a webmaster for NBC New York’s website, wnbc.com, in June of 2000. In 2010, as director of digital operations for NBC Sports, he managed the first-ever live stream of Super Bowl XLVI. He was named VP of technology for NBC Sports and NBC Olympics in 2012.

Black has been recognized with seven Sports Emmy awards, the Olympic Golden Rings for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad on NBC, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for 9/11 coverage in 2004. In addition, he was honored with the 2013 – 2014 technology and engineering Emmy Award for Pioneering Delivery of Pay TV Linear Video to Consumer Owned and Managed Devices Over an IP Connection.

Paul Briscoe, TAG Video Systems, Chief Architect

Chief architect at TAG Video Systems, Paul Briscoe’s career includes 14 years of building production systems at CBC and 20 years as R&D manager at Leitch Technology (Imagine today). Brisco’s unique abilities cross the intersection of product and R&D to help TAG develop the most forward-looking and effective solutions available.

Andrew Broadstone, Zixi, Senior Director of Product Management

Andrew Broadstone leads Zixi’s Intelligent Data Platform initiative, bringing AI and ML to live broadcast operations.

Before Zixi, he led the video platform product team at Brightcove where he spent six years working with some of the largest broadcasters and media companies. Particular areas of interest include live streaming, analytics, ad integration, and video players. Broadstone has an M.B.A. from Babson College and a B.A. from Oberlin College.

Jason Byrne, FloSports, VP, Engineering

Jason Byrne serves as chief architect and leader of software R&D efforts at FloSports. As the company’s VP of engineering, he manages a team of developers focused on video streaming, live graphics overlays, realtime sports statistics, and rankings data.

Byrne is the founder and former CEO of MileSplit, which grew to become the largest track and field web site in the country. The Florida-based startup was acquired by FloSports in 2013.

Brandon Costa, SVG, Director of Digital

Brandon Costa covers the sports video production industry with a focus on live streaming, over-the-top (OTT), social media, and other digital distribution technologies and platforms. He also directs SVG’s internal digital strategies launching the company’s video outfit, ‘SVG On Demand,’ designing and overseeing its mobile application, ‘SVG Mobile,’ and serving as executive producer and host of The SVG Podcast. Costa serves as program director of networking events serving the SVG College and SVG Digital communities. Prior to his time at SVG, Costa spent five years producing digital content for MLB Advanced Media.

Jason Dachman, SVG, Chief Editor

Jason Dachman oversees all aspects of SVG’s North American editorial operations, including the thrice-weekly SVG Insider newsletter and SVG’s annual print publications. A member of the SVG team since 2009, Dachman also serves as program director for SVG’s RSN Summit, Sports Content Management Forum, Sports Graphics Forum, and TranSPORT event. Prior to joining SVG, he spent three years covering local sports for The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA, and two years on the production staff of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s The Ron & Fez Show. Dachman began his career in the Sports Information Department at Northeastern University in Boston, where he also earned a B.A. in media communications and cinema studies.

Patrick Dees, Fan Controlled Football (FCF), Co-Founder, Chief Gaming Officer, and FCF Broadcast Team Analyst

Patrick Dees is a serial entrepreneur and dynamic executive who has been involved with a myriad of successful startups over his career. He’s passionate about leveraging new technologies to create consumer-facing products and creating world-class platforms from the ground up.

As co-founder and chief gaming officer of Fan Controlled Football (FCF), Dees has been a driving force, leading the company’s vision for gamifying the live sports experience, and most notably, overseeing the platform’s infrastructure, with a keen interest in partner success, reliability, and scalability. He also served as a lead analyst for FCF’s on-air broadcast team.

Alongside FCF’s co-founders, Dees worked closely in forming the league, which included managing multiple successful investment rounds, securing strategic partnerships – including one with global gaming platform, Twitch – and overseeing the league’s impressive growth throughout its inaugural season.

With FCF’s successful debut in the rearview mirror, Dees continues to focus on day-to-day and long-term initiatives, while managing the platform, strengthening distribution channels, and helping amplify the new league’s popularity as a brand ambassador.

Prior to launching FCF and completely disrupting the world of sports and entertainment, Dees co-founded Fanchise (2015), the company that built the real-time play-calling technology and fan engagement applications used by the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League. The project would eventually become the precursor to the creation of FCF.

Throughout his career, Dees has performed at the C-suite level for multiple startups and has gone on to become an accomplished venture-backed entrepreneur. He’s also served as an investor and advisor to numerous companies over the last decade, and spoken at industry-leading events including SXSW, Hashtag Sports, and the MIT Sloan Sports & Analytics Conference.

Additional milestones throughout his career include:

  • Founder and Executive Vice President, Talk About Wireless (2002) – He spearheaded the company’s growth initiatives, building operations to 68 brick-and-mortar locations, nearly 300 employees, and $35M in annual sales.
  • General Manager, Flipswap Inc. (2008) – Dees secured domestic distribution as the company grew to over 100 employees and over $50M in revenue.
  • Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Emerge Group (2013)
  • Partner and General ManagerXFL, Las Vegas Outlaws (2015) – FCF leveraged his experience as general manager and partner of the Las Vegas Outlaws, where he led the team to a playoff berth in its inaugural season.

Dees attended the University of Arizona, and currently resides in Temecula, CA.

Scott Goldman, Verizon Media, Director of Product Management

Scott Goldman has been with Verizon Media since November of 2014. He oversees a product management team responsible for developing, commercializing, and supporting streaming video services used by the world’s largest media companies.

Goldman’s career started in television production and as streaming started to challenge the TV industry, he pivoted to technology. Since then he has helped design broadcast integrations as a consultant at Cognizant, led efforts to launch Watch ABC at Disney, and developed Verizon Media Platform’s Live Event Streaming capabilities.

Jim Hall, Fastly, Senior Sales Engineer

Jim Hall is a senior sales engineer overseeing EMEA at Fastly where he helps companies improve their end users’ video experience. With 20+ years of delivering video at scale, both live and VOD, he has a solid track record of improving his customers’ performance while lowering cost.

Prior to Fastly, Hall was VP of technology at IGN Entertainment and COO of World Television. He holds two bachelor’s degrees, as well as a master’s degree in interactive telecommunications from NYU.

Kristian Hernandez, SVG, Associate Editor and Social Media Manager

Kristian Hernandez handles day-to-day construction of the SVG Insider newsletter, oversees all social media content distribution, and covers various sports technology topics for Sports Video Group. In addition, he is the program director for the annual SVG Venue Summit and the Teams Summit.

Before joining SVG, Hernandez served as co-founder of CHC-TV, the first student-run television studio at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. While at CHC, Hernandez produced a daily sports show named “On the Hill with Hernandez” — covering all men’s and women’s athletics for the college. Also, Hernandez spearheaded the college’s newspaper, “The Griffin”, as its sports editor. Hernandez graduated with a B.A. in communications. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he currently lives in Queens, NY.

Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG, Co-Executive Director, Editorial

Ken Kerschbaumer is co-executive director of editorial services for the Sports Video Group and SVG Europe. He was a co-founder of SVG along with Paul Gallo and Marty Porter in 2005 and has been writing about how sports networks and leagues use video and audio technology to deliver a quality TV experience since 1991. Kerschbaumer began his career in 1991 at Television Broadcast magazine before joining Cahners where he was founding editor of Digital Broadcasting magazine. In 2000, he joined Broadcasting & Cable magazine as senior editor of technology where he covered all aspects of broadcasting, cable, and internet content creation and distribution.

William Mao, Octagon, VP, Global Media Rights, Consulting Division

William Mao is VP of Octagon’s Global Media Rights Consulting division. Leveraging IPG and Octagon proprietary data, research, and technology, Mao advises rightsholders, broadcast platforms, technology companies, and the investment community within the sports media space.

A recognized expert on the intersection of sports and digital media, Mao was named “30 Under 30” in sports by Forbes in 2015, and is a recipient of both the SportsPro Media “10 NEXT in Sport” and Cynopsis Media Rising Star awards. He has been a featured panelist at the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, SXSW, and Sportel, and has guest-lectured at Columbia University and the London Business School. Mao is also a member of Sports Video Group’s Digital Advisory Committee.

Mao was previously VP of Digital at MP & Silva, where he brokered foundational media distribution deals for MPS client properties, and advised on event development and brand expansion opportunities for the agency. He has also worked in Content Partnerships for YouTube, where he oversaw the college sports business. At YouTube, Mao developed high-impact digital content partnerships with major rightsholders, broadcasters, leagues, athletes, and multi-channel creator networks on the world’s largest video platform. He originally joined YouTube in Google’s London office, where he reported directly to YouTube’s head of football.

A graduate of the London Business School, where his M.B.A. studies focused on strategy, Mao was president of the London Business School Student Association and led an executive team that managed an annual operating budget in excess of £1 million. Prior to his M.B.A., Mao spent four years as a management consultant with Novantas, and held positions with IMG and Masterplan Group International.

Mao completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University, earning a B.A. in psychology with honors. Originally from Los Angeles, he speaks both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

Michelle Munson, Eluvio, Co-Founder and CEO

Michelle Munson is the co-founder and CEO of Eluvio (www.eluv.io), based in Berkeley, CA. The company recently launched the Eluvio Content Fabric, a global software overlay network enabling content owners to manage and distribute ultra-low latency, high quality video (live and on-demand) to consumers and business partners without CDNs – and reduce their reliance on transcoding services, cloud storage providers, and aggregators. Munson previously founded Aspera in 2004 and led the company as CEO until May 2017, including through its acquisition by IBM in 2014. She created the Aspera FASP transport technology, an Emmy-award winning technology used in the digital media supply chain for high-speed low-cost secure digital content transport, replacing satellite and traditional tape-based delivery technologies.

Munson holds several patents and is a frequent speaker in the areas of content networking, machine learning, block chain, and cloud infrastructure. She was recently awarded the 2019 David Sarnoff Medal from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMTPE) for inventing FASP. Munson also received the Charles S. Swartz Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA); was named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM); serves as an SMTPE Fellow; and is on the board of directors at Avid. She was the 2019 Kansas State University College of Arts and Sciences Commencement Speaker and the 2006 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Engineering.

Munson holds dual B.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering and physics from Kansas State University, was a Goldwater Scholar for achievement in science and mathematics, and was later a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University where she received a postgraduate diploma in computer science.

Chris Pantoya, Fan Controlled Football (FCF), Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Strategy

Throughout her career, Chris Pantoya has consistently created strong operating results for companies ranging from start-up to Fortune 50, including premier organizations such as: Cox Communications, Verizon Communications, Sprint Nextel, the NBA (National Basketball Association), and most recently, Fanchise Entertainment’s Fan Controlled Football.

She has performed in scenarios ranging from strategic lead at the executive level, to being the senior operational leader of organizations with responsibility for up to 1000 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Pantoya currently serves as the chief commercial officer and head of strategy for interactive sports league and entertainment property, Fanchise. She is also serving as chief financial officer of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), OmniChannel Acquisition Corporation.

In February 2019, Pantoya was appointed to the Board of Directors for Ryman Hospitality (NYSE: RHP) and is also a member of the company’s audit committee. Ryman is the proud owner and operator of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Ole Red (in partnership with Blake Shelton) and the Gaylord Resorts and Hotels.

Pantoya advises a number of companies relative to technology, media and entertainment, and direct-to-consumer business models.

Previously, she established and led the corporate development practice in media and entertainment, for global telecom leader Verizon; ultimately acquiring over $5B worth of assets over three years.

Pantoya serves on both her business school’s executive advisory board (vice chairman in waiting), and the board of Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab.

Pantoya grew up in Colorado, but has moved around the U.S., both during her husband’s service in the U.S. Navy submarine force and for her own career. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s of Business Administration from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.

Hania Poole, Turner Sports, SVP of Digital

Hania Poole is senior vice president of digital at Turner Sports overseeing the strategic direction, content, operations, and product development of the full breadth of the Turner Sports digital portfolio including NCAA March Madness Live, NBA Digital, and the Bleacher Report app.

Poole previously held several leadership positions throughout her Turner career including director of business operations for Turner Sports, focusing on emerging media partnerships for the company’s broad portfolio of leading sports properties – the NBA, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, Major League Baseball, and professional golf. She has also been director of business operations for PGA.com, the official site for the PGA of America.

Before joining the Turner Sports division, Poole was a senior product manager in Turner’s New Product Development group, in which she helped launch PlayON! Sports, a low-cost, live streaming platform for high school and college sports. She also launched TVinContext, a premium advertising offering.

Among her many notable accomplishments, Poole was recognized by AdAge as a distinguished member of its “2018 Women to Watch” list, which celebrates executives in marketing, media, and advertising who are business visionaries with notable accomplishments from the previous year. She was also listed among Adweek’s “2018 Most Powerful Women in Sports” for her influential work across Turner Sports NCAA Digital portfolio and the launch of B/R Live. In addition, Poole ranks among Sports Business Journal’s list of “2018 Game Changers”, recognizing women in sports who have made transformative strides in the industry.

Poole received her bachelor’s degree in public policy and French from Duke University and earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is based in Atlanta, GA.

Juan Rotger, LaLiga, Global Content Protection Manager

A former trademark attorney, Juan Rotger has taken on the important role of overseeing LaLiga content security and protection from live piracy. LaLiga has played a highly active role working with government agencies to ensure the league’s ability to act swiftly when combating piracy during live match broadcasting in a digital ecosystem.

Steven Thorpe, Fox Corporation, VP, Video Platforms

Steven Thorpe is vice president of video platforms at Fox Corporation where he is responsible for audience-facing video solutions and operations across the company’s portfolio of sports, news, entertainment, and local apps/websites.

Since joining Fox, Thorpe has led an overhaul of the video supply chain and content delivery ecosystem focusing on quality of service and delivering a “better than TV” customer experience. Additionally, he led the launch team in the creation of FOX NOW Live, offering a simulcast of the network’s programming across web, mobile, and living room devices, in what was and remains the only broadcast network to offer pay TV customers in all 210 television markets nationwide a live stream of its primetime entertainment and sports programming.

Prior to his current role, Thorpe worked at NBCUniversal in a variety of positions – including on the NBC.com team responsible for the award-winning iPad app and full episode player.

Thorpe began his career as part of the College Football production team at Fox Sports while attending the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.

Chris Wagner, OTT Advisors, Managing Partner

Chris Wagner is a technology expert who partners with investors, executives, and entrepreneurs to grow their professional brands, revenues, and customers. After spending more than a decade in the video internet streaming industry, Wagner has developed an uncanny ability to start-up new technology businesses and enhance existing enterprises through digitally enabled services. He co-founded internet start-up NeuLion and helped grow the business to $100 million dollars, which sold to Endeavor for $250 million in cash.

Wagner’s ability to creatively apply technology to business opportunities has given him a front row seat with management teams, boards, and the internet industry. His passion for technology and how to apply it to enable business success has created a network of followers interested in his views and how he might add value to their teams.

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