Lenny Daniels on Monday became the latest WarnerMedia veteran to exit the company since it was acquired by the former Discovery Communications.
Daniels had been president of the sports-media operation once known as Turner Sports, which encompasses the company’s NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball telecasts and studio shows as well as the NCAA March Madness tournament that its parent corporation, Warner Bros. Discovery, shares with Paramount Global’s CBS Sports. He “has decided to leave WBD Sports, effective immediately, Luis Silberwasser, chairman of Warner Bros. Discovery’s sports operations, told staffers in a memo Monday. “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.”
Daniels, who had been with the company for 27 years, was not named to head up the parent’s sports business, which now stretches to include sports rights for the Olympics in Europe, among other holdings. Silberwasser was named sports chairman for Warner Bros. Discovery in June.
Sports Business Journal previously reported on the executive’s departure.
Daniels’ departure, however, will leave Warner Bros. Discovery without one of its familiar faces as it faces a new round of negotiations for rights to NBA games, one of the centerpieces of its overall programming schedule. Warner Bros. in October signed new multi-year deals with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith to host TNT’s flagship studio show, “Inside The NBA,” but its CEO, David Zaslav , recently cautioned that the company doesn’t “have to have the NBA,” if a deal doesn’t meet its needs. The NBA’s current deal with both Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney’s ESPN expires after the 2024-25 season.
Daniels played a pivotal role in helping Turner acquire the Bleacher Report sports site.
Other top sports executives will remain with the company. “I am extremely confident in the future of WBD Sports, both here in the U.S. and abroad. We have an enviable portfolio of premium sports assets, and we have the best creative, production and business teams in the industry.,” Silberwasser said. “With all of you, we will continue to innovate, grow and make the important strategic decisions that set us up for long-term success in this new media landscape.”
Daniels’ direct reports will now work under Silberwasser. It does not seem likely that the company will fill Daniels’ role immediately. Tina Shah, executive VP and general manager; Craig Barry, chief content officer; Tara August, senior VP of talent relations; Bennett Spector, who heads up content and programming for Bleacher Report’; and Chris Brown, vice president of tech operations, are expected to remain with the company. Cn