News

New Team at Uni Sports

4/05/2010 3:00 AM Eastern

Looking to take the service
to the next level, Universal
Sports has named David Sternberg
CEO and Perkins Miller
chief operating officer.

Sternberg joins the joint venture
of Leo Hindery’s InterMedia
Partners and NBC from Fox
Cable Networks, where he spent
some seven years as executive
vice president and chief operating
offi cer of the Emerging Networks
group, with oversight of
Fox Soccer Channel, Fuel TV and
Fox Sports en Español.

Miller was most recently senior
vice president, Digital Media,
NBC Sports and Olympics, and
general manager for Universal
Sports Network, where he oversaw
all digital media initiatives
for NBC Sports and NBC Olympics,
as well as NBC’s interests in
Universal Sports. The network offers
up a comprehensive slate of
Olympic-style sports and had a
presence at February’s Vancouver
Winter Games through news
and highlights coverage.

In the new organizational setup,
Claude Ruibal, who co-founded predecessor
company World Championship
Sports Network and was
serving as Universal Sports CEO
and chairman, will retain the latter
role.

Carlos Silva, who had been
president and chief operating officer, will remain with the company
as president of Universal
Sports Properties, heading its
emerging fitness and training
business. David Michaels will
continue to serve as executive
producer of Universal Sports.

Since officially establishing the
joint venture in June 2008, distribution
of Universal Sports has
grown from 1.5 million to more
than 57 million TV households,
including all of the top 10 markets,
save for Boston.

Sternberg will work out of the
network’s Westlake, Calif., offices,
with sales and digital operations
remaining on the East Coast.
Miller will be based in New York
and will continue to lead NBC’s
Olympic digital effort for the 2012
London Games.

Following his “three-month
retirement,” Sternberg said he’s
“ready to roll up his sleeves and
help Universal Sports realize its
potential.”

Already holding a bevy of rights,
including world and championship
events in swimming, cycling, running,
gymnastics and skiing that
total over 3,600 hours annually,
distribution will be a top priority
for Sternberg, despite the channel’s
rapid carriage ascension.

“The network is available to 57
million homes, so there are another
50 million to 60 million not
spoken for,” Sternberg said. “Satellite
will be a big part of that and
there are conversations with cable.”
He noted that Universal
Sports is also looking for gains
in advanced media, whether online,
through video-on-demand,
or even pay-per-view for premium
content.
Miller said that Universal
Sports is home to events featuring
the likes of bicycling legend
Lance Armstrong and Olympic
gold medalists like Lindsey
Vonn and Shaun White. Asked if
Universal Sports would present
events from the Summer Olympics
in 2012, Miller sidestepped
the query, saying only that there
is “a long time to go and a lot of
work to do in connecting fans to
Michael Phelps and [2008 Olympic
individual all-around gold
medalist] Nastia Luiken in the
run up to London.”

Miller said that InterMedia and
NBC’s hiring of Sternberg underscores
how highly the partners
value this asset, as “his cable experience
and expertise is what’s
needed to really build” Universal
Sports.

Both also pointed to gains on
the advertising side coming out
of Vancouver, with such sponsors
as Subway and Coca-Cola.
NBC’s ad sales team is incorporating
Universal Sports in its upfront
pitches to marketers looking
to extend their association yearround
with Olympic-style sports,
not just during the Games themselves
or the Olympic Trials.

March