2023 SVG Regional Sports Production Summit

Keynote Speakers

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.

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.

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.

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