The Future of Sports and Media

By Omneya Aboushanab

November 17, 2017

Newhouse in New York hosts David Stern and Edward Bleier ’51

Edward Bleier '51 and David Stern (center) surrounded by students and other event attendees.

Newhouse in New York recently hosted a conversation with former NBA commissioner David Stern and long-time TV/movie executive Edward Bleier ’51. Student Omneya Aboushanab, who attended the event, recounts her experience.

At 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, Newhouse in New York‘s Fall 2017 students, along with about 50 Newhouse alumni, filled Syracuse University’s Fisher Center to listen to a riveting conversation between two media moguls. But the talk reached far beyond the room. Since the event reached capacity so quickly, it was simultaneously live-streamed on the Newhouse NYC Facebook page, and had more than 2,500 views.

Newhouse in New York director Cheryl Brody Franklin and program adviser Marisa Ramel made the event more than just a talk. From 6-7 p.m., students and alumni enjoyed refreshments while networking with one another. While networking can be hard for students, the setting made it simple because nothing is easier than bonding over your love for “‘Cuse.” Even our guests of honor, Stern and Bleier, casually walked around and had conversations with various attendees.

Photos of David Stern and Edward Bleier '51
David Stern (left) and Edward Bleier '51

At 7 p.m., Stern and Bleier began their strategic conversation about the radical changes in the communications industry, including those implemented by Stern during his 30 years as NBA commissioner. Stern, a fan favorite, is arguably one of the biggest and most effective executives in media and sports. And Bleier, like so many distinguished Syracuse alumni, is a media legend. The combination of the two left the audience in awe. From the conversation, it became clear that Stern is a big reason why sports and sports media are the way they are today—from the way sports are broadcast to how they’ve been transformed over the years into an extraordinarily lucrative business.

Especially enjoyable was the Q&A portion of the evening, when audience members and Facebook Live viewers had their questions answered. Some questions centered around the NBA, obviously, but others focused on the media industry in general. A particularly popular topic was the growth in companies like Amazon, YouTube and Twitter doubling as streaming services. Stern said that digital streaming will continue to end the ubiquity of cable in sports viewing, even predicting that Netflix will eventually try its hand in the sports world. He said that this was something the industry will have to get used to, specifically in the context of those companies bidding on NFL games now, and possibly other leagues later on.

In the back of the room, BiB Media, a Brooklyn-based production company founded by two Newhouse alumni, ran the Facebook Live stream. A few lucky Newhouse in New York students were invited to help. I was in charge of vetting the comments section and selecting 10 viewer-submitted questions that would spark the most conversation. Two of my classmates, Nikki DeMentri and Logan Grossman, were also working in what we called the “command center.” They were replying to viewer questions and comments, as well as posting important snippets from Stern and Bleier’s conversation. Being that the three of us are broadcast and digital journalism students, it came as no surprise that we wanted a hand in the broadcast of the event.

After the talk and Q&A ended, the night didn’t. More mingling, conversations and fan moments happened. A line of people formed around Stern, as Newhouse in New York’s sports-obsessed students couldn’t wait to grab a photo with the NBA legend. Stern and Bleier posed for plenty of pictures, and Stern showed off his customized 44 basketball jersey.

It was a night to remember, and we couldn’t be more thankful for a program that provides its students with amazing opportunities like these. A huge thank you to David Stern and Edward Bleier for their wisdom, and another thank you to everyone who attended and tuned into our Facebook Live stream.

Omneya Aboushanab is a senior broadcast and digital journalism major  at the Newhouse School, participating in the Newhouse in New York  program this fall.