Former News Corp. Exec Rich Battista Named CEO of Mandalay Sports Media
Rich Battista, who during 18 years with News Corp. helped build many of the Fox sports networks, on Thursday was named CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, a year-old joint venture that has ambitious plans to produce sports-themed movies, TV and cable programs and eventually build and buy media and digital properties related to sports.
Battista, who most recently ran LodgeNet Interactive Corp., will oversee the venture, which is owned by producer and sports team owner Peter Guber, producer Mike Tollin and CAA.
“The idea is not just to produce another movie or TV show,” said Guber, “but to take this to the next level by utilizing our relationships and access to an ever-increasing number of traditional and digital platforms to create value for this enterprise.”
Guber means that through his connections as a part owner of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers and his collection of minor league teams, along with his and Tollin’s entertainment connections, they will leverage the opportunities opening up on regional and national sports networks, online and on other emerging platforms.
Tollin, whose feature credits include Coach Carter and Varsity Blues, said they will work closely with major national brands to develop programming that will entertain but also “embed” the brands in the content at a time when traditional 30-second advertising is no longer as viable as it once was.
CAA, which helped bring the partners together with Battista, will also play a role by matching up the productions with various kinds of intellectual property and major national brands and, where possible, incorporate the agency’s stars into the programming.
Battista said there is no set budget range for any project but will rather depend on whether it’s a feature film, a TV show, a digital property or something else. He said over time, they will seek to build and acquire assets such as websites and cable channels and other related properties.
Battista spent 18 years at News Corp, and Fox, where from 2008-10 he served as president of National Cable Networks. He had oversight of such cable networks as FX, National Geographic, Big Ten Network, Fox Soccer Channel, Speed Channel and Fox Sports in Latin America.
“The goal here is to have our content help drive the company to a whole other level,” said Battista.
Tollin, who has been involved in Mandalay Entertainment for nearly a year, said the company is already developing both fictional and nonfiction programming, but he declined to make any specific announcements.
Guber cited as an example a recent short film produced for online distribution about Arnold Palmer that attracted CAA client Will Arnett as the star as an example of the synergy they believe is possible.