Friday Abernathy, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, GM, Network
Friday Abernethy is a strategic dealmaker with high-impact media experience and a proven ability to inspire, grow, and reimagine businesses. An innovative and collaborative leader known for meeting industry disruption head-on, Abernethy has managed billion-dollar revenue streams, reimagined long-time partnerships, and transformed business models to reflect technological advances.
Serving as general manager of the network at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Abernethy oversees day-to-day operations of the network while working with existing leadership to build best-in-class linear and digital services for current and new partners alike.
An executive at Univision for eight years, Abernethy was at the forefront of the network’s content distribution strategy, improving revenue through legacy cable and satellite providers even as she accelerated an expansion into major streaming platforms. As executive vice president of platform strategy, content licensing, & business development, Abernethy managed licensing distribution across all cable systems in the U.S., with revenue of $1B+, as well as the development of streaming businesses and other business development strategies. Since leaving Univision, she has been a strategic advisor to the founder and president of Tagger Media, a venture-funded social listening platform that helps brands, agencies, and media companies leverage social media platforms.
Abernethy earned a B.A. in communications and Spanish from Denison University in Granville, OH. She also completed the Senior Executive Management Summit at Northwestern University and the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute from WICT. Abernethy began her career as a management trainee at JPMorgan Chase and an account and program Manager at GE Capital.
Abernethy was a member of the Board of the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket, MA (2016 – 2022), serving as chair and vice chair for two years each.
Robert Carzoli, Program Productions, Chairman
For over two full decades, Robert Carzoli has overseen the astronomical growth of Program Productions, XLT Management Services, ProCrewz, and Kingsbridge Shared Services. Today, these entities make up the industry’s largest labor management group.
Carzoli brings over 30 years of diverse labor management experience to his companies and their customers, matched with a foresight and understanding of the industry he loves. He continuously seeks out and retains the best and brightest personnel in the industry. Under Carzoli’s leadership, the companies’ management, accounting, crewing, client support, and legal units are universally acknowledged for their excellence, dedication to client satisfaction, and the passion they bring to their jobs.
Carzoli is active in a number of national and local charities including the Sports Broadcasting Fund, Merging Vets and Players, and most recently has worked with industry Hall-of-Famers Geoffrey Mason and Jerry Steinberg to lead the efforts of the Sports Video Group’s Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. This initiative ensures that broadcast technicians and their families have access to today’s most-trusted addiction and mental health care resources.
Carzoli and his wife Sue split their time between their homes in Scottsdale, AZ and the Chicagoland area.
John Kosner, Kosner Media, President
John Kosner is an internet pioneer and four-decade veteran of sports media. Today, he is an investor and advisor in sports tech startups and president of Kosner Media, a digital media and sports consultancy.
In 2018, Kosner and the late NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern created Micromanagement Ventures, a portfolio of sports technology start-ups focused on media, betting, and player health. Kosner continues to serve as an advisor to and an investor in nine of the original Micromanagement Ventures portfolio companies which include WHOOP, WSC Sports, and Overtime.
In addition, Kosner is an advisor to Apple News, MLS, the Big East, the PRCA, Opendorse, SponsorUnited, Videocites, and NFT.NYC, among others. He was a board member at 8th Wall which was acquired by Niantic on March 11, 2022. Niantic and his former NBA colleague Ed Desser devise sports media strategies and negotiate media agreements for rightsholders and write periodic columns for the Sports Business Journal. In addition, Niantic writes articles about sports and video games with his colleague J Moses, a board member at Take-Two Interactive. He also does expert witness work, currently for Proskauer Rose LLP and recently for Latham & Watkins LLP and Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.
Previously, Kosner led digital media at ESPN from 2003 – 2017, after stints at Sports Illustrated; the NBA – where he was in charge of U.S. broadcasting during the Dream Team era; CBS Sports; and NBC Sports. In his 21 years at the company, Kosner built ESPN into the world’s leading digital sports destination – a powerhouse in short- and long-form editorial content, streaming, social media, podcasting, fantasy sports, and direct-to-consumer. He increased traffic ten-fold and turned an unprofitable business into ESPN’s fastest growing. At ESPN, Kosner was part of a small, senior group that managed the program acquisition, scheduling, and linear and digital distribution of all ESPN professional and collegiate sports properties.
During Kosner’s tenure at ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal awarded ESPN its annual award for Best in Digital Sports Media five times in 10 years and named him the “Most Influential” in Online Media in 2008. In addition, ESPN.com won eight Sports Emmy’s and two Online Journalism Awards, including the prestigious Award for General Excellence. ESPN The Magazine was awarded the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2017. Kosner has also appeared on lists of powerful and influential figures in sports media in BusinessWeek, Daily Variety, among others.
Kosner is the Chairman of the Alumni Association and former Trustees of his alma mater, the Collegiate School in New York City. He graduated with distinction from Stanford University in 1982 with a bachelor of arts degree in American History. A native of New York City, Kosner lives in Manhattan with his family.
Jess Kowatch, Program Productions, EVP, Operations and COO
With over 14 years of experience managing projects, Jessica Kowatch has served with Program Productions since 2015. As a hard-working, multi-task titan who treats crews like family, some of her senior-level direction duties relate to client resource allocation and communication directives, new business development, national training initiatives, and assisting with labor union negotiations.
Kowatch also serves on the Technology Advisory Committee created to develop and implement technology advancements to the ProCrewz enterprise resource management system and mobile application.
Hailing from a proud Pittsburgh family, Kowatch cherishes traveling while working as a production manager and visiting events over the years, from the views at Kapalua on the Island of Maui in Hawaii to Sea Island, GA. The relationships and contacts made over the years proved invaluable as she continues to strengthen the company with her detail-oriented expertise.
Zach Leonsis, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, President of Media & New Enterprises
Zach Leonsis is president of Media & New Enterprises overseeing all of Monumental’s media operations, team rights agreements, and media revenues. Both NBCSW and Monumental Sports Network report directly into Leonsis. In addition, he oversees all corporate development activities which include corporate M&A, private equity, and venture capital investment opportunities. Leonsis launched and oversees Monumental’s growing esports division which includes Wizards District Gaming, Caps Gaming, and District E. Through his leadership in esports, he also represents Monumental on Team Liquid’s board of directors. In addition, Leonsis oversees the organization’s larger technology efforts as Monumental strives to innovate and build a more robust digital footprint that benefits fans and employees alike.
Leonsis earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and received his M.B.A. from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2015. The Washington Business Journal and Sports Business Journal both recognized Leonsis for his work in revolutionizing the direct-to-fan regional digital experience by both honoring him in their prestigious ‘Forty under 40’ lists. Sports Business Journal has also featured Leonsis as an ‘RSN Power Player’; VenuesNow has honored him as one of their VenuesNow All Stars; and SportTechie has featured him as one of their top 20 innovators.
Charlie Myers, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, CTO
Charlie Myers is the chief technology officer for Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Myers oversees a new department inclusive of information technology, engineering, cyber security, digital development, new technologies & innovation projects, and other critical technology needs.
Myers joined Monumental from Sirius XM where he served as vice president and general manager of Media & Development Engineering. He was responsible for technology and media infrastructure, strategic planning, and design for all linear media platforms; also overseeing video production, IP networks, and asset management systems. Under his leadership, Sirius deployed multiple new strategies and platforms to align with evolving best practices and digital advancements contributing to $8B in annual revenue. Prior to that, Myers worked for Discovery and was involved with building major media facilities, overseeing global transmission platforms, and managing a media research and development team that was involved with the development and deployment of HD, 3D, and UHD technologies worldwide.
Myers holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from Farmingdale State College – SUNY and is an M.B.A. candidate at the University of Illinois Gies School of Business. He is a longtime resident of Northern Virginia alongside his family.
David Schafer, MSG Networks, SVP, Product, Technology & Operations
Industry veteran David Schafer joined MSG Networks as senior vice president, operations. In his new management role, Schafer oversees all production, engineering, and technical strategy and operations for the network across its linear, digital, and streaming platforms, as well as lead the design and development of new products. As a part of the network’s leadership team, he reports to Andrea Greenberg, president and CEO, MSG Networks.
Schafer joins MSG Networks with more than two decades of sports production and Olympic broadcasting experience, which includes the last 13 years at Discovery. He most recently served as group SVP, sports content and production, where he led programming, content, and production operations across linear and digital platforms for Discovery’s sports business across 54 countries and 23 languages.
Based in Paris, Schafer was responsible for executing Discovery’s coverage of marquee live sporting events including the Olympic Games, tennis Grand Slams, cycling Grand Tours, motor sports, various local football rights, and more. In 2018, he successfully directed the complex planning and operational delivery of Discovery’s first ever Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Prior to overseeing operations for all of Discovery’s sports initiatives, Schafer led Discovery’s international digital business across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific, with a focus on Direct to Consumer, TV Everywhere, network websites, and syndication. He directly oversaw all aspects of the company’s international digital real estate, from content creation and revenue generation to product and technology with teams based in more than 20 offices. When Eurosport joined Discovery in 2014, Schafer was responsible for growing the Eurosport Player, the company’s premium live and on-demand OTT service.
From 2000 to 2016, Schafer played a key role in Olympic operations at NBC Universal, where he worked as a broadcast manager on eight Olympic Games and won four Emmy Awards for the network’s coverage in Beijing, London, Sochi, and Rio. He also previously served as vice president of operations for Madison Square Garden, where he directed production management, rights management, and technical operations for Fuse.
Jon Slobotkin, NBC Sports Regional Networks, SVP, Content and Live Programming
Jon Slobotkin has served as senior vice president of content and live programming for NBC Sports Regional Networks since 2017. In this role he is responsible for all content and live production, which includes more than 1,500 games annually, and leads content and production strategy and execution across platforms.
Prior to his current role, Slobotkin served as vice president and executive producer of live events, where he oversaw all aspects of live event coverage for the NBC Regional Sports Networks. He also served as a live event producer at the 2016 Rio Olympics, overseeing women’s basketball.
Previously, Slobotkin worked as a producer for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, primarily covering the Philadelphia Phillies. Before SportsNet Philadelphia, he was a producer for 15 years at PRISM, one of the country’s first-ever regional sports networks.
Slobotkin is a graduate of Temple University and is a member of its Klein College of Media and Communication Hall of Fame.
Scott West, Program Productions, President and CEO
For nearly 25 years, Scott West has provided both technical facilities and labor management services to the broadcast television industry. West was named president and CEO of Program Productions in 2019. He is currently responsible for oversight and management of business operations for Program Productions, its sister company XLT Management Services – a payroll and human resources management firm – as well as Event Software Partners, which develops and manages the proprietary ProCrewz labor management software and mobile application platform.
Prior to his work with Program Productions, West served on the facilities side of the business as vice president of engineering operations for NEP Group where he provided senior level direction for television facility maintenance engineering; six national field shops; fiber-optic departments, operations, and travel departments; and 1st-tier technical support. He also served as president and general manager of Corplex. At Corplex, West helped build a small, local mobile production truck company into a national player that provided HD facilities to some of the sports industry’s highest profile events prior to its acquisition by NEP Group.
Daniel Pesce, WSC Sports, Business Development, North America
Dan Pesce is a team lead in the business development group at WSC Sports – a leader in sports tech using AI and machine learning to automatically create and distribute sports highlights. WSC has built a strong following with its AI technology working with top tier tech companies, broadcasters, leagues, teams, and more. Pesce creates partnerships that harness the power of AI with partners such as AT&T, NFL, and YES Network. His passion for sports tech has spanned his 10+ year career in the industry with stops at Krossover, Synergy Sports, and Madison Square Garden.