Luis Silberwasser prepares to work new terrain on a familiar piece of land.
The veteran TV exec, who has become a top content executive in Spanish-language media in recent years, has been named chairman of Warner Bros. Discovery’s broader sports business, the company said Thursday. In this new role, Silberwasser, who spent years overseeing international programming at Discovery, will become one of the most influential executives in sports media and play a role in watching sports favorites such as NBA games, NHL games and the annual March Madness college basketball game tournament taking place will be shown to spectators. He will also have a large number of European sports rights which the company controls.
Silberwasser’s new role was previously reported by the New York Times. Lenny Daniels, President of Turner Sports, and Patrick Crumb, President of Regional Sports Networks will report to him.
“Having known Luis for many years, I have great respect for his hard work, collaborative approach to work and his ability to build very successful global companies and brands,” said David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, in a statement. “I am delighted to be working with him again and believe Luis’ strong international business relationships, leadership experience and passion for delivering the best content and consumer experiences make him the ideal leader to oversee the continued growth and expansion of our world-class sports business .
Silberwasser was a senior programming executive at TelevisaUnivision.” “We thank Luis for his leadership in expanding Univision Network’s audience advantage across the company’s portfolio of national broadcast and cable networks,” said Wade Davis, CEO of the company. “I personally want to wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors.”
Before acquiring WarnerMedia, Discovery wasn’t a big player in US esports. However, overseas it has become a growing powerhouse. Its France-based Eurosports owns the European rights to broadcast the Olympic Games and is available in 54 countries. In February, Discovery entered talks that would combine Eurosport’s UK business with BT Sport’s in the UK and Ireland, potentially creating another overseas bridgehead. Sport also plays a larger role in the company’s business in the USA. Warner Bros. Discovery has attempted to use sport to sell higher-priced advertising packages to many of its customers.
Sports media executives expect the newly merged company to become increasingly aggressive in winning new rights across multiple sports, potentially securing global distribution deals that its rivals may struggle to match. Meanwhile, Warner’s Turner Sports has proven adept at building new franchises centered around sports rights in recent years, such as NBA on TNT, which boasts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley as analysts and has a chemistry consistent with the Rival ESPN has not yet reached . The company has also spent time developing a celebrity golf franchise called “The Match,” which doesn’t depend on any major league winning rights.
Silberwasser will quickly face challenges. Early talks with the NBA, whose rights deal with Turner and Disney is expected to expire after the 2024-2025 season, could get underway quickly over the next 12 months. Just as the NFL did in its recent rights talks with major television networks, the NBA is expected to seek significant increases in annual fees. Historically, Discovery hasn’t enjoyed a reputation for lavish spending, but it may need to cough up some cash if it wants to continue being a player in the sports arena.