Seeing the Whole Field At Univision

International experience informs network’s new sports president, who is determined to grow division by leaps and bounds

Why This Matters

Sandy Brown

President, Univision Sports

B.A., Washington and Lee U.

ProServ TV, assistant manager of television sales, 1985-88
Drexel Burnham Lambert, institutional equity sales, 1988-1990
NBA, television sales manager, 1990-92
ESPN Asia, managing director, 1992-96
ESPN Star Sports, managing director, 1996-2001
Virtual Spectator, president/COO, 2001-02
CNBC Asia, president/ CEO, 2002-06
Worldspace Inc., COO, 2006-08
Petry, president/ CEO, 2008-10
Current title since November 2010

b. July 20, 1962; wife, Tori; daughter Kendal, 12; son Alex, 9

Growing up, Univision Sports President Alexander “Sandy”
Brown played “every kind of sport you could imagine.” A Division
I lacrosse player at Washington and Lee University in Virginia,
he played in the North/South All-Star Game as a senior on a Friday and by the following Monday, he
was on the other side of the sports world, having
landed a job at ProServ Television.

“Three weeks later, they gave me a plane
ticket and said, ‘Go to Europe and sell tennis.’
There was no manual. There was no training,”
Brown says. He cut his teeth in the international
marketplace selling broadcast rights for
the NBA, tennis and some of ProServ’s own

The autonomy of the international distribution
business and the ability to start something
from scratch appealed to Brown immediately.
By the early ’90s, he’d had ample international
successes with ProServ and the NBA, and the
league brought him in-house to distribute its
content. He was then tapped by ESPN, with
whom he had worked closely while at the NBA,
to run their fledgling operation in Asia. At the
time both ESPN and News Corp. were competing
heavily to win share in the Far East market.

“We were beating our brains out in terms of
programming rights,” Brown says. “[It] made
it difficult for either one of us to build a sustainable
business when we were continuing to
one-up each other for rights fees.” To streamline
production and operational costs, ESPN
and News Corp. formed the joint venture ESPN
Star Sports, with Brown running the show.

“He took on a pretty difficult challenge,”
says Bruce Churchill, president of STAR TV
in the mid-’90s and now an executive VP at
DirecTV. “You had two companies that were
competing and two companies that didn’t
have the greatest of relationships.”

Executives from both companies praised
Brown’s steady hand and lack of favoritism.
“When it came to making key management
appointments, he did not favor the ESPN
team—he put key people in from both companies,”
Churchill recalls.

Petty Enterprises CEO Dave Zucker was
managing director of ESPN International and
worked closely with Brown during the merger.
While the ESPN Star Sports deal was a 50/50
venture, a main condition of the deal from
Zucker’s side was that Brown lead the project.
“[Sandy has] very good people skills, builds
trust-based relationships with stakeholders,”
Zucker says. “He’s a good manager and a good
leader...we were very confident that he would
be able to make the merger work.”

With a young family, Brown decided to return
to the U.S. after 10 years abroad. By the
time he left, ESPN Star Sports boasted six networks
and a staff of 500.

Brown’s success in international TV (he also
did a stint as head of CNBC Asia) and his understanding
of other cultures, in addition to
his love of all things sports, make him a strong
fit at Univision Sports.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. increased
37% between 2000 and 2009, according
to the 2010 Census—a growth rate four
times higher than the national average. Hispanics
now make up nearly one-sixth of the U.S.
population and account for more than $1 trillion
in purchasing power. “This is an explosive
space,” Brown says of the Hispanic population.
“From the sports perspective, I think Univision
is very well-positioned to grow this space.”

The network increased its sports profi le in
2010 during the World Cup. The 8.8 million
viewers that tuned in to watch the Spain-
Netherlands World Cup final was a record for
Univision. The network also teamed up with
Avail-TVN to make all Cup matches available
on demand for the first time.

Univision also has made major investments
in FIFA and Mexican League soccer as well,
assets that Brown will continue to develop
programming around. “Univision has done a
tremendous job in covering soccer in terms of
catering to the desire of the Hispanic sports
fan,” Brown says. He also sees room for the network
and all of its various platforms to delve
deeper into major sports leagues in the U.S.
Last November, just before Brown was named
president of the sports division, Univision
Interactive Media partnered with the NBA to
launch a cobranded Spanish-language site at In addition to scores
and league news, the site features blogs by
prominent Hispanic NBA players.

U.S. Hispanics are more likely to consume
sports information on the Web compared to
non-Hispanics, according to a Simmons NCS/
NHCS report cited by Univision. Brown sees
this as an opportunity and plans to utilize the
network’s many platforms to increase its reach.
“I think there’s a lot more bandwidth,” he says.

Brown’s peers, many of whom he has known
professionally for more than 25 years, believe
the job at Univision allows him to utilize both
his skills and experience. “[He is] very comfortable
in different cultures, and understands
sports across different cultures,” says Zucker.

Brown still plays in a masters lacrosse league,
roots for his beloved Baltimore sports teams,
enjoys duck hunting and plays a number of
sports with his wife, Tori. Brown’s two kids are
also budding athletes, so much of his winters
are spent running around hockey rinks and on
lacrosse and field hockey fields. And even as a
parental spectator, Brown’s passion for sports
is palpable. “I just love watching my kids compete,”
he says.