The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
Scott O’Neil, From Mail-room to C-Suite

Scott O’Neil, From Mail-room to C-Suite

December 19, 2019

Key Highlights 

  1. Scott shares his early days, coming out of college and how he got started (the hard way) in the industry (at the New Jersey Nets)
  2. How he found his groove, valuable lessons for any student and inspiring sports executive
  3. How is own experience shaped his Leadership style now
  4. His NBA days and lessons learned there – relationships and communication (face time)
  5. His view of falling in love with the power and influence of Sports
  6. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment – most talented sports executive group ever assembled
  7. Strong Community Services philosophy
  8. Winning or Losing seasons – Building a long term winning mentality & culture
  9. Scott’s take on E-sports and Sixers Innovation Lab and products coming out of it
  10. Unique partnerships with other organizations from San Francisco 49, Live Nation/Ticketmaster, etc
  11. Eye on China and lessons for opportunities outside of the US


About Scott O'Neil

Scott O’Neil is the Chief Executive Officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, an organization with the mission of building passionate, high-performing teams that inspire people to enhance the communities where its teams live, work, play and win.

O’Neil is responsible for the organization’s leadership, strategic vision, operations and global ambitions, including the pursuit and acquisition of sports, entertainment and consumer-facing properties. He is the acting Chief Executive Officer over all properties within the organization’s portfolio and under the ownership of Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, including: the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), Prudential Center, a top five-ranked performance venue in the U.S. located in Newark, New Jersey; Dignitas, an internationally renowned esports organization which includes Clutch Gaming, the NBA 2K League’s 76ers Gaming Club, the Sixers Innovation Lab, the GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, the Delaware Blue Coats (NBA G League), and the Binghamton Devils (AHL). He is an acting Co-Managing partner for Elevate Sports Ventures, a sports and entertainment agency created in partnership between HBSE, Live Nation | Ticketmaster, the San Francisco 49ers and Oak View Group.
With more than 20 years of experience in the NBA, NHL and NFL, O’Neil has earned a reputation as a leader of leaders and is one of the most connected, dynamic and driven executives in the industry today. Previous executives whom he has mentored and managed run many of the top organizations in sports and entertainment today; those he currently manages are poised to lead the industry into the next generation.

O’Neil’s reputation for authentic leadership, unparalleled drive to innovate, and emphasis on the importance of corporate culture has placed him at the forefront of the industry vanguard. In merely six years overseeing operations for the properties in HBSE’s portfolio, O’Neil led the Philadelphia 76ers to sign the first jersey patch sponsorship in “Big Four” sports history; construct the most technically advanced training complex in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex; establish an industry-leading Innovation Lab, and become the first U.S. professional sports franchise to acquire a world-renowned esports team. In that same period, under O’Neil’s ambitious and aggressive leadership, Prudential Center has become a top seven and top five most-played venue in the U.S. and the world by Billboard and Pollstar, respectively, and welcomes over 1.75 million fans and event attendees through its doors annually.

Of his professional accomplishments, O’Neil considers his organizations’ corporate culture and dedication to community service his greatest successes and future legacy. The Philadelphia 76ers have been named one of the “Most Innovative Companies” in the world by Fast Company magazine (2018), one of the “Top 50 Cultures” in the U.S. by Entrepreneur (2017), three-times named a “Best Place to Work in Philadelphia” by the Philadelphia Business Journal (2016, 2015, 2014), twice named a “Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania by the Central Penn Business Journal (2018, 2017) and twice named one of the “50 Best Companies to Sell For” by internationally-renowned Selling Power Magazine (2019, 2018). Prudential Center was named a “Best Business” by NJBiz (2016). O’Neil’s belief that those who steward iconic sports and entertainment brands have the responsibility and privilege to use those platforms to mentor the next generation of leaders and make the world a better place is the driving force behind HBSE’s community engagement initiatives.

Recognizing the important role HBSE’s properties play within its communities, O’Neil’s employees individually volunteer 76 hours of service annually in the communities where their fans and patrons live, work and play, resulting in more than 30,000 hours of dedicated community service each year. The Philadelphia 76ers’ charitable endeavor, the Sixers Youth Foundation, has additionally raised more than $1 million for Philadelphia-area youth last year alone and is leveraging sports to help children in need.

A former President of Madison Square Garden Sports, O’Neil was the key architect in some of the largest venue sponsorship deals in history while overseeing iconic sports properties including the New York Knicks (NBA) and New York Rangers (NHL). O’Neil spent seven years as the Senior Vice President of the NBA’s renowned Team Marketing and Business Operations group, where he advised NBA, WNBA and NBA Gatorade League teams on all business operations, CRM Department and NBA Canada business. Earlier in his career, O’Neil served as the President of and held positions with the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) and New Jersey Nets (NBA).

For almost a decade, O’Neil has served as an Alternate Governor for the NBA and NHL.  In 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 the Philadelphia Business Journal named O’Neil to their “Power 100” list of the “most influential people” in the greater Philadelphia region; he additionally received Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEO” honor in 2018.  In 2019, The Hockey News named O’Neil No. 37 on their list of their list of “100 People of Power and Influence.”  In 2019, Hashtag Sports honored O’Neil with an award for “Leadership in Supporting Diversity in Sports.” Sports and technology outlet, SportTechie, named O’Neil as 2017’s “Most Innovative Executive”; in 2016, Philadelphia Magazine declared him one of the “Most Innovative Leaders” in Philadelphia. He has been twice named to The NJBiz “Power 100” list. As a young executive, O’Neil was thrice recognized at Sports Business Journal’s acclaimed “Forty Under 40” Awards; launching him into the publication’s renowned “Hall of Fame.”  He additionally received “Forty Under 40” honors from Adweek and Sporting News in 2006 and 2005 respectively. 

O’Neil’s influence and experience has earned him a place at the podium at some of the largest industry conferences in the world, delivering keynotes at events such as: Leaders in Sport, Beyond Sport, Sports Business Journal’s World Congress of Sport, the IEG Pivot Conference, the Ivy Sports Symposium, Sport Marketing Association’s Conference and more. O’Neil’s leadership practices have been chronicled and applauded in The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute, publishers of The New York Times Best Seller, Leadership and Self Deception, The Orange Revolution by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, and Potato Chip Ticket Sales by Kathy Burrows. He has made numerous appearances on CNN, CNBC, FOX Business Network, and has twice co-hosted Bloomberg television’s Bloomberg. He also interacts daily with his nearly 20,000 Twitter and 35,000 LinkedIN. He serves on the boards for the March of Dimes, Zoomi Inc., the Sixers Youth Foundation and the Sixers Innovation Lab.

O’Neil earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Villanova University and his master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Lisa, and three daughters.

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Hot Topic with Phil Lines - Black Out Rule & Amazon Prime’s Premier League Debut

Hot Topic with Phil Lines - Black Out Rule & Amazon Prime’s Premier League Debut

December 11, 2019

Hot Topic with Phil Lines - Black Out Rule & Amazon Prime's Premier League Debut.

Marcus Luer interviews Phil Lines, the man best known for taking the Premier League Media rights globally to new heights in the early 2000.  Phil started his illustrious career as a Journalist before spending time at ISL and Formula One and then later at the BBC and ITV in the UK.

Phil set up the world’s first sports news television agency which indirectly landed him the job at the Premier League. Working directly with Richard Scudamore,  the Chairman, Phil grew the rights fees for the League globally from £60 million to over £500 million per season. After the EPL, Phil spent time at major agencies from CAA to Lagadere before starting his own Consultancy firm, Nootka in 2014. 

Michael R. Payne, Father of Olympic Branding - Part 2

Michael R. Payne, Father of Olympic Branding - Part 2

December 2, 2019

Michael Payne has been at the forefront of the sports marketing industry nearly forty years – having led the global marketing effort for the Olympic Movement for more than two decades, from 1983 to 2004 as the IOC’s first ever Marketing and Broadcast Rights Director. Michael Payne now runs his own global strategic advisory group – Payne Sports Media Strategies SA, serving a diverse group of clients and Boards.

Nominated as one of the world’s most influential marketers by Advertising Age, Michael oversaw the development of the first ever global marketing strategy for the Olympic Games, which has turned into one of the most successful marketing initiatives ever seen.

During his tenure at the IOC, Michael lead the marketing team for over 20 years, that would generate in excess of $15 billion in broadcast and marketing revenues.

On leaving the IOC, following the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Michael founded his own strategic consultancy, Payne Sports Media Strategies SA working with many of the world’s leading sports groups and companies. For more than a decade, Michael has acted as special advisor to F1’s former Chairman / CEO Bernie Ecclestone, pioneering the effort to bring F1 to new markets from Singapore to Russia, to supporting major F1 broadcast negotiations from UK to US and eventually helping prepare the group for sale in 2015.

Michael has also acted for more than a decade as special advisor to WPP, the world’s largest marketing group and serves on, or as advisor to a number of boards around the world.

Still very active in the business affairs of the Olympic Movement, Tokyo 2020 will be Michael’s 20th Olympic Games Michael served as senior strategic advisor to the successful London 2012, Rio 2016 and LA 2028 bids. He advises on major Olympic, F1 and other sports media rights and sponsorship negotiations for clients across Asia, the Americas and Europe, negotiating many of the world’s largest broadcast and sponsorship deals. Most recently he pioneered, with his Chinese partners Shankai, the ground breaking innovative Alibaba – IOC long term partnership deal, and the ground breaking Coca-Cola Mengniu Joint TOP deal.

Recognised as a pioneer in the industry, from the original creation of the IOC’s TOP global sponsorship programme, through to the introduction of brand management discipline in sports marketing and the IOC’s award winning Celebrate Humanity programme, to the creation of the world’s first digital sports film archive bureau, OTAB, to ground breaking technology introducing LED to the field of sports competition.

His business book, Olympic Turnaround (Published London Business Press – June 2005) details the business story of how the Olympic Games stepped back from the brink of bankruptcy to become the world’s best known brand – and a multi billion dollar global franchise, has earned critical acclaim in the industry and been translated into more than 15 languages.

Prior to joining the IOC, Michael spent a number of years helping to develop and manage marketing programmes for a broad variety of international events. These included the First World Athletics Championships, Helsinki1983; the English test Match Cricket Series through to the launch of the London Marathon in 1982. Prior to that, in the mid 1970’s Michael competed in the international ski circuit as a member of the British Freestyle Ski Team, at World Cup level – twice becoming British Professional Freestyle Ski Champion.

Michael is a regular commentator on sports marketing industry affairs for CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, Financial Times and other media groups around the world including regular marketing columns with Fortune China and Japan’s Yomuiri Shimbun.


Key Highlights:

  1. Ambush Marketing and how the IOC dealt with it in it’s own way
  2. 1999 Salt Lake City – turning a major crisis into an opportunity
  3. Would the IOC ever move the Olympics when a City/Country is not delivering on the promise?
  4. Looking ahead the next decade of Olympics in Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, LA
  5. Attraction of the Olympics for global brands wherever they might come from
  6. Power of Live sports for Media owners

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