The 75 Most Powerful People in the Sports Media Business

The 75 Most Powerful People in the Sports Media Business

Media

The 75 Most Powerful People in the Sports Media Business

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30. John Entz (FOX Sports) & Lee Fitting (ESPN)

As President of production, Entz is in charge of all the live events, studio, and technical production for FOX Sports. That means oversight of the World Series, a ton of college football and college basketball, the Super Bowl once every three years, and more. In ESPN’s recent reorginzation, Fitting became in charge of all of the network’s football production for both college and the NFL.

29. Al Haymon (PBC) Oscar De La Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions) & Bob Arum (Top Rank)

One thing is clear, several networks are now trying to recreate the magic of boxing. And these are the three who currently control the sport. Oscar De La Hoya promotes the sport’s biggest attraction, Canelo Alvarez, who just signed the richest sports deal of all-time with DAZN. Bob Arum’s Top Rank’s 7-year deal with ESPN is a big part of their vital streaming service. Al Haymon, who is Mayweather’s advisor, is the most powerful man in boxing. The preeminent boxing manager’s PBC recently inked up with FOX for a four-year deal that includes fights on the network’s main channel in addition to its deal with Showtime.

28. John Skipper (DAZN) & Marie Donoghue (Amazon)

Donoghue used to be in Skipper’s inner circle of executives when he was running ESPN. Now the two have the checkbooks for the streaming outlets that are widely expected to make the biggest splashes in the coming years. DAZN signed the aforementioned enormous Canelo Alvarez deal, and will also be launching a weeknight MLB show akin to the Red Zone Channel this year. Amazon has Thursday Night Football streaming rights and if anyone is going to be an exclusive streamer of legitimate major league sporting rights in the next few years, these two companies are definitely the most logical bets.

27. Bill Simmons (The Ringer and HBO)

Aside from his hit podcast, Bill Simmons empowers writers, producers, and podcast hosts with a sought-after platform at The Ringer. Simmons fingerprints are now spread across several networks. His former Grantland writers Zach Lowe and Bill Barnwell continue to have an influence on the conversation of their respective sports, longtime podcast guest Cousin Sal is on FS1’s Lock It In, David Jacoby has a television on ESPN2, and Jalen Rose is used all over ESPN. Simmons no longer has a TV presence, but is still revered by most in the business as someone almost every young writer looks up to. Simmons had a big upward momentum swing in 2018 when HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary was a great success, and The Ringer broke the massive story about suspiciously connected burner accounts defending Bryan Colangelo (they wound up belonging to Colangelo’s wife, and he was fired by the Sixers).

26. Dan Patrick (AT&T & FOX Sports Radio)

Dan Patrick’s fame is generational at this point. He is the best interviewer in the business and doesn’t just attract the biggest name guests, but gets them to open up. He still has his flagship radio show, and even though his TV days at NBC are over, it would be a good bet that he pops up again in a big studio hosting role down the line. It was he who paved the way for Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Charissa Thompson, and Mike Tirico to have success leaving ESPN by showing them it can be done.

25. Skip Bayless (FS1)

When LeBron James makes the news or Aaron Rodgers comes up short or the Cowboys win a big game, there is a decent amount of people who, for better or worse, instantly want to hear what Skip Bayless has to say about it. He is one of the few people on this planet that can draw over 200k viewers on occasion on FS1 like he does. As much as people do not want to admit it, combining his ratings and what he has done for The Herd as its lead-in, makes him worth the $6.5 million FOX is reportedly paying him annually.

24. Charles Barkley & Ernie Johnson (Turner Sports)

Inside the NBA, with E.J., Barkley, Shaq, and Kenny Smith, is widely regarded as the best pre- and postgame studio show in sports. Barkley brings strong opinions that resonate whether or not one agrees with him, and Johnson does an immaculate job as the point guard on the program in teeing up and balancing all of the personalities.

23. Tony Romo and Jim Nantz (CBS)

Romo has definitely elevated CBS’s top NFL team these past two seasons, and he and Nantz have been a great team. Romo’s success in immediately jumping into a top broadcast booth from the field will not be so easily replicated by other networks. In addition to NFL, Nantz also calls the Final Four and The Masters.

22. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, & Mike Tirico (NBC)

Al and Cris are amongst the most well-known sports broadcasters and, at this point, are a part — a big part — of football fans’ Sunday night routine. Collinsworth also owns Pro Football Focus. Tirico, who by all accounts is the heir to Michaels, is now the host of Football Night in America and is also seen across the network’s Olympics coverage, Notre Dame football, golf broadcasts, and more. That all adds up to Tirico becoming, if he’s not already, the face of NBC Sports.

21. Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski, (ESPN)

The NFL and the NBA are the two most news-worthy sports, and it feels like at least 75% of that news comes from Schefter and Woj. In a time where NBA player movement often drives the conversation, anything Woj says – on Twitter, in columns, or during his television hits – feels important. There’s an apt name for it: the Woj bomb. Along with being the top news-breaker for the most popular sport in the United States, Schefter is an excellent television personality and his increased role on Get Up on Thursdays has been an underrated bright spot for the network this past Fall.

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