Fox Sports has undergone a major transition in its hierarchy, bringing in DirecTV topper Eric Shanks as president and elevating Ed Goren to vice chairman.
Both will report to David Hill, who remains Fox Sports media group chairman and CEO.
Shanks, who at 38 will be the youngest president of any network sports division, is a Fox Sports alum, having joined the net in 1994. He moved to DirecTV in 2004 as senior VP of advanced services and content and was later promoted to exec VP of entertainment. Before departing Fox, he served as a producer and VP of enhanced programming for its networks around the globe.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me, and I’m looking forward to returning to Fox and working closely with David and Ed,” Shanks said. “Our goal will be to build upon our big-event strategy and closely examine new programming opportunities and new production and delivery technologies so Fox Sports remains an industry leader well into the future.”
The transition was months in the planning and didn’t come as a surprise to DirecTV.
“Anyone who knows Eric is keenly aware of his deep passion for sports, so when this opportunity came up for him a while back, we worked with our friends at News Corp. and Fox Sports to ensure the transition for both companies was seamless,” said Mike White, president and CEO of DirecTV. “His accomplishments here have left an immensely positive impact on the organization that will resonate for many years to come. We wish him the very best in his new position.”
According to insiders, Hill has been a huge supporter of Shanks for 15 years and was anxious to bring him back to the Fox Sports fold.
Shanks leaves DirecTV as the satellite provider has upped its original programming lineup on its entertainment 101 Network, as well as repurposing series that have concluded their network runs. DirecTV is the firstrun home of “Friday Night Lights,” which is shooting its fifth season now in Austin, Texas. Shanks was instrumental in working out a deal with NBC to allow the show to extend its life after poor ratings on the Peacock put the series in jeopardy. DirecTV began airing the show in 2008 with an exclusive window before the Peacock can broadcast it a few months later.
Other skeins on the 101 include an upcoming airing of all five seasons of HBO’s “The Wire.” The cabler’s dramas “Oz” and “Deadwood” were also given the DirecTV treatment.
DirecTV said talks of a successor to Shanks are already in the works and should be announced in the next few weeks. The satellite provider will be looking for a person who has deep connections to other nets to continue the flow of programming, as well as someone who can help build a sub base.
Goren has been at Fox Sports since February 1994, only months after its inception timed to when the network acquired the NFL’s National Football Conference rights. Responsibilities with his title change include working closely with Hill with the Fox Sports Media Group’s business and programming operations, including production, program development, research, marketing and on-air promotion, scheduling and identifying business opportunities.
Shanks and Goren worked together in the early 1990s at the Eye.
“I’m excited to have Eric, whom I recruited from CBS 16 years ago, return to us and succeed me as Fox Sports president,” Goren said. “He’s an extremely bright and talented young executive with a 21st century skill set, and I’m looking forward to working with him and with David to maximize and develop all of the networks and websites in the Fox Sports Media Group.”
In January, all sports operations, including Fox Sports, Fox Soccer Channel, Speed and 19 regional sports networks were placed under the supervision of Hill, as well as the company’s interests in joint venture businesses Stats and the Big Ten Network.
Fox will host the upcoming Super Bowl from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in February, as well as the 2014 game that was just announced Tuesday — to be held in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. That will mark the first Super Bowl to be held in cold weather.
Other top Fox Sports properties include the World Series and Daytona 500. Hill has indicated the network is interested in making a serious bid for the 2014 and 2016 Winter and Summer Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and Rio de Janeiro, respectively.