BACKGROUND: Mark Johnson joined Turner Sports in 2008 and, in his current role, oversees the digital businesses in which the programmer has a partnership with a league. Those include with the NBA, the NCAA, the PGA of America and Major League Baseball. Thus, they include NBA Digital and NBA League Pass, NCAA March Madness Live and the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup apps. “As a fun side project, I also oversee our social media team,” he notes dryly. Earlier, he was VP of business operations. Before Turner Sports was VP of partner relations at NeuLion following eight years at College Sports Television.
2017 HIGHLIGHTS: The 2016-17 NBA season saw Turner Sports rebuild all of the league’s app platforms and NBA.com. “I joke and say it’s a project that probably no one else in the history of digital would ever sign up for, completely redoing and relaunching roughly 20 different products at the same time,” Johnson says. Live video encoding for NBA League Pass also transitioned to iStreamPlanet, a Turner property, and League Pass added enhancements such as monthly and commercial-free packages. March Madness Live innovations icluded virtual-reality offerings, partnering with Intel, which have grown this year. Turner also built a social media studio in Atlanta to accommodate much more live video on social platforms.
WHAT’S AHEAD: Among many, many things: more platforms and “whip-around” Fast Break coverage for NCAA March Madness; more personalized content around NBA teams and players, plus virtual reality and augmented reality advances; and “cool executions” around the PGA Championship’s 100th edition this summer, Johnson indicates, followed by the Ryder Cup competition, in Paris. There’s extra excitement this year with the USA having won in 2016 after the cup’s being held for eight years by Europe. Plus, more and more on social media, which “changes every few months.”