CEO, Los Angeles Sparks; Investor, Africa Channel
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/4/2012 12:02:00 AM
Today, more than half of the veteran broadcaster’s time is spent running the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, of which she is co-owner and CEO. She spends another third of her time working on the Africa Channel, which she and her husband co-own with her brother. And an increasing number of hours each week are spent on philanthropic work, for causes such as the United Way, the California Science Center Foundation, the Los Angeles Public Library Commission and more.
At NBCU, Madison led the charge for diversity. One of her final assignments was to forge a diversity agreement between Comcast, NBCU, the government and minority groups pressing for initiatives to be attached to Comcast’s acquisition. She was instrumental in steering Comcast and NBCU through myriad agreements.
In her short time running the Sparks, Madison has already managed to secure the WNBA’s first paid distribution deal, with Time Warner’s regional sports network.
“I walked in wanting to do that,” says Madison. “Most of the other teams that are televised don’t actually get paid for their programming, and some of them actually have to pay a production fee.”
Madison’ current goal is to expand the Sparks’ fan base. To bring in more of the faithful, Madison is “developing ways to connect to our audience, ways that have added value,” she says. Among those are hosting postgame concerts at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, where the Sparks play.
“Staples holds just about 19,000 people for any given game, and we have about 10,000 ticket-holders. The goal for us is to fill the rest of those seats,” she says.
One of the ways Madison is trying to do that is by offering ticket-holders concerts, along with exciting basketball games, including “Gospel Night” (which was very successful last season) and “Faith and Family Night.”
Says Laurel Richie, president of the WNBA: “Paula is doing a terrific job of marrying the potential fan base in Los Angeles with programming, content and events that are tailormade for a wonderfully diverse organization.”
Madison also has confidence in her product: “Once you get people in to watch a WNBA game, they almost always come back for more,” she says.
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