Friday, June 18th, 2021

Pac-12 hires MGM executive George Kliavkoff as its next commissioner, focused on “revenue sports”

Published on May 13, 2021

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The Pac-12 announced a new commissioner for the conference to replace outgoing leader Larry Scott. MGM executive George Kliavkoff will start his new position on July 1. The conference held a press conference Thursday morning to introduce Kliavkoff.

When asked by Hoopfeed about elevating women’s basketball, especially in light of the conference having the reigning national champion among its members, Kliavkoff ended his responses pivoting back to the “revenue sports.”

“I want to be clear. We know where the bread is buttered. We’re focused on the revenue sports and winning in men’s basketball and football.”

Listen to his full response:

The Pac-12’s women’s basketball tournament moved to Las Vegas in 2019 as the previous location, KeyArena in Seattle, went under construction for renovations. The arena (now known as Climate Pledge Arena), the home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, is set to reopen in late 2021.

In the press release announcing the hire, the conference touted Kliavkoff’s background in sports management and his connections to women’s basketball.

During his tenure at MGM Resorts International, Kliavkoff managed one of the largest live entertainment and sports businesses in the world and also oversaw the company’s sponsorship spend with professional and college sports leagues, conferences—including the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and the Pac-12 Football Championship Game—and teams. Additionally, he led the company’s global sponsorship sales efforts and sat on the board of BetMGM, one of the three largest U.S. sports betting companies.

A proponent of women’s sports, he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the WNBA and managed the Las Vegas Aces WNBA franchise prior to selling the team earlier this year to Las Vegas Raiders Owner Mark Davis.

In the media and entertainment space, Kliavkoff co-led the largest and most profitable division at Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, overseeing Hearst’s interests in cable television networks, including ESPN, A&E, Lifetime and HISTORY. He drove significant financial returns for Hearst by managing the purchase of a 50% stake in Mark Burnett Productions, which included signature programming such as Survivor, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, The Voice and The Bible, and then later negotiating a sale to MGM Studios.

Kliavkoff was the first chief digital officer at NBCUniversal, where he set corporate digital media strategy and developed new business models and markets. At NBCU, Kliavkoff partnered with News Corp to incubate and launch Hulu, which became a top five U.S. video site within six months of launch. Kliavkoff served as the interim CEO of Hulu until the first full-time CEO was hired, and he served on the joint venture’s board.

Prior to NBCU, Kliavkoff was executive vice president of business for Major League Baseball Advanced Media and managed corporate development, business development, and baseball’s digital media subscription and licensing businesses.


 

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