Diamond Sports Announces New Board of Managers
Diamond Sports Group, LLC (“DSG,” “Diamond,” or the “Company”), a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) (“Sinclair”), announced the appointment of a new slate of directors to oversee DSG in conjunction with the recent closing of a new $635 million facility to enable DSG to expand and strengthen its operational platform including emerging opportunities in the direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) sports streaming space.
The new Board will consist of seasoned executives from the worlds of sports, media, streaming and related industries. Chris Ripley, the Chief Executive Officer of Sinclair, will serve on the board and lead Sinclair’s efforts in enhancing the prospects for DSG. The incoming chairman, Randy Freer, a Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow, is the former CEO of Hulu and previously was President and COO of Fox Networks Group and long-time co-President of Fox Sports Media. Freer will bring to bear his decades of experience in sports media and, more recently, developing a leading streaming business, to assist DSG in its transition to a premier player in sports streaming. David Preschlack, most recently President of NBC Sports Regional Networks, has more than 20 years of experience at NBC, Disney, and ESPN in the sports marketing arena and possesses deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing regional sports networks, and has familiarity with sports gaming industry developments. Maryann Turcke, a senior adviser to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and formerly the Chief Operating Officer of the National Football League, a senior executive for Bell Media and a member of the boards of Royal Bank of Canada and Frontier Communications, will bring her substantial experience at the intersection of media, sports, and telecom to help DSG capitalize on its plans. Bob Whitsitt, previously a Senior Executive in both the NBA and the NFL, has over 30 years of experience in multiple sports industries and business operations, as well as deep relations with team leagues and owners.
The new five-member Board became effective May 1, 2022, at which time they replaced the existing three-member Board consisting of David Dunn, Jason Pappas, and Steve Rosenberg, and will help direct DSG’s efforts in launching its recently announced direct to consumer streaming business and oversee the existing linear broadcasting business. Outgoing chairman, David Dunn, will serve as a special adviser to the board for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition in responsibilities.
Chris Ripley commented, “I am excited to announce this team of highly qualified and talented leaders, with diverse backgrounds and long histories of excellence in sports, media, direct-to-consumer, and technology. The relationships they bring with DSG’s sports team and league counterparties, as well as distributors and advertisers, should add immeasurably to DSG’s prospects. Their collective expertise will be invaluable to the successful execution of Diamond’s strategy in the years to come, as it seeks to revolutionize the way sports fans consume and interact with local sports content. I would also like to thank our outgoing board members for their service and guidance to get Diamond to this next chapter.”
Ripley continued, “In the past couple of months, we have successfully closed on Diamond’s new financing to fully fund our business plan and successfully renewed programming with one of our largest distributors. With these open items behind us and with this impressive slate of independent directors, we are excited to focus on the continued enhancement and evolution of our distribution channels for this unique content offering. With the start of the full Major League Baseball season, our Bally Sports RSNs opened to strong TV audiences with household viewing impressions up versus the same period last year. This should bode well for the DTC soft launch of five RSNS with MLB teams later this quarter and then a full DTC launch this September. While the DTC pricing will be announced closer to going live, it is anticipated to have an attractive price point as compared to other similar professional sports DTC offerings.”
Freer commented, “I and my fellow directors look forward to the challenge of helping DSG and Sinclair move forward to realize the potential of DSG’s Bally Sports Networks. DSG is focused on creating a fan, team and league-friendly modern direct-to-consumer platform with capabilities that offers significant promise for the future growth of local sports communities, fans, and consumer engagement on all levels.”
Randy Freer currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of The Freer Company, while also serving as Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company. He previously was Chief Executive Officer at Hulu until 2020 and prior to that, spent 20 years with Fox Corporation. He was Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer at Fox Sports Media Group, as well as President and Chief Operating Officer at Fox Networks Group. He began his career with Turner Broadcasting System in various roles of increasing responsibility and scale, followed by three years at an animation syndication firm, Active Entertainment. Freer received his Bachelor’s from St. Joseph’s College, studying Business and History.
David Preschlack most recently served as President of NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. In this role, he oversaw nine big-market regional sports networks and managed relationships with major professional sports leagues. Before his tenure with NBC Sports, he had a twenty-year career with Disney and ESPN, where in his last role he was Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing. Preschlack received his Bachelor’s degree from Denison University in Economics.
Maryann Turcke currently serves on various boards and as strategic advisor to global organizations. She had an illustrious career with Bell Media followed by four years with the NFL. She served as the Chief Operating Officer with the NFL and, before that, led NFL Media from its LA headquarters. Turcke received her Bachelor’s, as well as her MBA, from Queen’s University, and her Master’s from University of Toronto. She has been named one of AdWeek’s top 50 women in Sports and was also named Woman of the Year by Women in Communications and Technology.
Bob Whitsitt has over 30 years of experience in the sports industry, including as a Senior Executive in both the NBA and the NFL, covering business operations and player personnel. He previously served as President and General Manager of the Portland Trailblazers, as well as the Alternate Governor in representing the franchise at NBA owners’ meetings for nine years and Seattle Supersonics for eight seasons. During his nine-year tenure as the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks President, he negotiated Paul Allen’s acquisition of the franchise and served as his representative at league owners’ meetings. He has also served as President of Seahawks’ stadium, Trailblazers’ arena, Rose City Radio, Action Sports Media, and the WNBA Portland Fire. He was the Chief Sports Advisor for Wildcat Capital Management assisting in its efforts to construct a new arena in Seattle and its launch of the Seattle Kraken NHL expansion franchise. Whitsitt is an attorney, licensed to practice law in the State of Washington.
Chris Ripley has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of Sinclair Broadcast Group since January 2017. From April 2014 to January 2017, he served as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to Sinclair, Mr. Ripley was a managing director at UBS Investment Bank’s Global Media Group and served as head of the Los Angeles office where he managed, advised, and structured various financings and merger and acquisition transactions in the broadcast and entertainment sectors. Prior to UBS, Mr. Ripley was a principal in Prime Ventures and an analyst at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. Mr. Ripley graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Richard Ivey School of Business, with a Bachelor of Arts in Honors Business Administration. Mr. Ripley serves as a Director of Curio Wellness.
About Diamond Sports Group
Diamond Sports Group LLC, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., owns the Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), the nation’s leading provider of local sports. Its 19 owned-and-operated RSNs include Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Great Lakes, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports West, and Bally Sports Wisconsin. The Bally Sports RSNs serve as the TV home to more than half of all MLB, NHL and NBA teams based in the United States. Diamond Sports Group also has a joint venture in Marquee, the home of the Chicago Cubs, and a minority interest in the YES Network, the local destination for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets. Diamond RSNs produce approximately 5,000 live local professional telecasts each year in addition to a wide variety of locally produced sports events and programs each year.
About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is a diversified media company and a leading provider of local sports and news. The Company owns and/or operates 21 regional sports network brands; owns, operates and/or provides services to 185 television stations in 86 markets, owns multiple national networks including Tennis Channel and Stadium; and has TV stations affiliated with all the major broadcast networks. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital and streaming platforms NewsOn and STIRR. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.