The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Venu Sports drafts execs from Paramount, FanDuel, SiriusXM to fill leadership roster

(Courtesy image)
(Courtesy image)

Streaming-focused Venu Sports is filling out its executive roster with key leadership hires from SiriusXM, FanDuel, Paramount Global and the Los Angeles Rams, among others.

On Tuesday, the joint venture formed by Fox Corporation, the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery’s (WBD) TNT Sports announced eight new executive hires that will work under newly-minted CEO Pete Distad to develop and deploy the sports-focused service in time for football season.

The new executives announced on Tuesday are:

• Brian Borkowski, Chief Marketing Officer, who will oversee marketing, branding and growth strategies at Venu Sports. Borkowski joins from sports gaming company FanDuel, where he led marketing initiatives.

• Jessica Casano-Antonellis, Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, who will lead all communications channels for Venu Sports. She previously worked as a communications executive at SiriusXM, and held similar roles at the Walt Disney Company’s streaming services Hulu and Disney Plus. Point-to-point communications for Venu Sports were previously handled by Fox Sports.

•Tim Connolly, Chief Business Officer, who will oversee strategic initiatives like content rights and licensing, distribution, business development and subscriber growth and retention strategies. Connolly joins Venu Sports from Apple, where he oversaw growth initiatives for Apple TV Plus and the onboarding of Major League Soccer’s Season Pass. He previously worked under Distad at Apple.

• Amit Dudakia, Senior Vice President and Head of Product, who will manage all aspects of product and design for Venu Sports, along with editorial and programming initiatives. He previously worked for Fox Corporation, where he served as a Vice President of Product Management for Fox Technology & Digital, with a specialized focus on Fox Sports.

• Skarpi Hedinsson, Chief Technology Officer, who will develop and executive on tech-related strategies for Venu Sports. He joins from the Los Angeles Rams, where he was responsible for executing the football team’s vision, design and implementation of technology throughout SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. The venue is shared with the Los Angeles Chargers.

• David Hillman, Chief Legal Officer, who will handle all things legal — including, presumably, the ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court by pay TV distributor Fubo, who alleges Venu Sports is undermining cable, satellite and streaming cable-like products by carving out exemptions in programming agreements that are more-favorable to the joint venture compared to the types of deals other distributors get. He joins from Paramount Global, where he served as an Executive Vice President and General Counsel for various CBS business units, including CBS Sports.

• Gautam Ranji, Chief Financial Officer, who will be responsible for making it rain money at Venu Sports — because sports is, after all, a business, and none of the three joint venture participants are developing Venu Sports to be a charitable platform. Like Hillman, Ranji also joined from Paramount Global, where he was instrumental in facilitating the merger between Viacom Corporation and CBS several years ago.

• Judy Schwab, Senior Vice President and “Head of People,” which will involve developing and executing on strategies to hire and strategically place employees and key talent through the Venu Sports organizational structure. And, also, laying off people when and if the time comes.

The eight executives join a growing list of middle-management and on-the-floor employees, including 150 engineers and other leadership personnel who are tasked with building Venu Sports into a standalone streaming product.

As described, Venu Sports will offer live channels from each of the three joint venture participants, including local ABC and Fox stations and affiliates in most parts of the country, as well as ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, ESPN U, ACC Network, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, TNT, TBS and Tru TV.

The service is slated to launch around mid-August, just in time for the start of the NFL’s regular season, with regular pricing falling somewhere between $40 and $50 per month.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
Home » News » Industries » Streaming » Venu Sports drafts execs from Paramount, FanDuel, SiriusXM to fill leadership roster