By John Ourand and Eric Prisbell
Certainly one of MLB’s two Deputy Commissioners has left to take a senior job with the nation’s largest esports operator. MLB Deputy Commissioner of Enterprise & Media Tony Petitti was named Activision Blizzard’s president of sports activities & leisure as we speak. He’ll stay primarily based in N.Y and report back to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Petitti formally begins subsequent week.
“What Tony’s going to be uniquely in a position to do is unite what we’re doing in sport, movie and tv and client merchandise, into what we do in our reside operations,” Kotick mentioned. “Tony has a extremely distinctive set of expertise. He has each imaginative and prescient and the power to execute.”
Petitti’s transfer to go from the oldest U.S. league to the most important esports firm is certain to catch some abruptly. In his 12 years at MLB, Petitti rose by the ranks to the purpose the place he was a key a part of Commissioner Rob Manfred’s internal circle. Petitti was well-known among the many sports activities enterprise, although he stored a comparatively low profile. At MLB, he oversaw every little thing from advertising and particular occasions to broadcast and digital media. He began at MLB in 2008 as MLB Community president, following a profitable stint at CBS Sports activities.
“Tony has baseball in his blood. This was a extremely exhausting resolution for him,” mentioned The Montag Group’s Sandy Montag, an in depth good friend and advisor of Petitti. “Bobby Kotick has very large concepts. I imagine that they will do massive issues collectively. He thinks large. Tony is aware of the right way to construct companies. Video video games, gaming and esports is simply rising.”
In his position at Activision Blizzard, Petitti will name upon his expertise at each a longtime league and a broadcast community. He’ll oversee efforts to maneuver Activision manufacturers into native markets. Earlier than the pandemic hit, it had plans to function Overwatch League and Name of Obligation League in native markets. Petitti additionally might be known as on to inform the tales of the gamers, groups and followers from each the skilled and novice leagues.
“When persons are participating and utilizing the content material and it means loads to them, that’s an setting that you just wish to be in,” Petitti mentioned. “That’s what will get me essentially the most enthusiastic about being given this chance to try this and do it in one other new area. That’s one of the best a part of this chance to me.”
Sources say MLB Exec VP/Technique, Expertise & Innovation Chris Marinak and Exec VP/Enterprise & Gross sales Noah Backyard will take over a lot of Petitti’s obligations, and Rob McGlarry will proceed to supervise MLB Community as President. With Petitti leaving, Manfred’s internal circle now contains Marinak, Backyard, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, VP/On-Discipline Operations, Initiatives & Technique. Chris Younger, Exec VP/Baseball & Softball Growth Tony Reagins, Chief Folks & Tradition Officer Michele Meyer-Shipp, Particular Assistant Joe Torre, Basic Counsel Lara Wisch, CFO Bob Starkey and Chief Communications Officer Pat Courtney.
Petitti was promoted to deputy commissioner in late 2017 following Bob Bowman’s departure after 17 years. Petitti and Braves Chair Terry McGuirk led current negotiations for MLB to resume its rights take care of Turner at round a 40% common annual improve. Petitti led negotiations for MLB to resume its rights take care of Fox in November 2018, which sources mentioned was price $5.1 billion in complete. Petitti was a principal dealmaker in securing Deltatre in 2019 as MLB’s new know-how service supplier and to again up its international community of practically 300 digital locations.
Petitti was an government who had gained Manfred’s belief. In 2016, Manfred particularly pinpointed Petitti in enjoying the important thing position in serving to to reshape how the league markets itself, notably with younger followers. These efforts had been mirrored in bringing the sport to non-traditional venues, akin to Fort Bragg, N.C., the place the Marlins and Braves performed the primary ever common season sports activities occasion on a army base on July 3, 2016.
Pettiti performed a job in serving to to deliver to life Manfred’s long-held “One Baseball” initiative designed, partly, to completely combine all elements of the enterprise underneath one roof. That was achieved early this yr when all MLB workers — roughly 1,400 staff from the league’s 245 Park Ave. places of work and its MLBAM places of work in Chelsea Market — formally moved into their new places of work at 1271 Avenue of the Americas.
Certainly one of his most notable achievements got here in 2015, when Petitti initiated vital adjustments to MLB’s Dwelling Run Derby, together with implementing a bracketing system and timed rounds. That led to renewed recognition within the occasion, which was mirrored in rankings.
And he performed a job within the conception of the “Discipline of Desires” Recreation, which was to be performed Aug. 13 in Dyersville, Iowa, in a newly constructed momentary stadium earlier than it was postponed till 2021 as a result of pandemic.
“It’s exhausting to innovate in sports activities which have been round for 100 years,” Kotick mentioned. “Whenever you’re in first innings like we’re and also you even have the prospect to innovate and enchantment to even broader audiences of individuals, somebody with Tony’s expertise goes to have a novel platform to actually benefit from whenever you take a look at the a whole bunch and a whole bunch of tens of millions of those that we attain.”
John Ourand and Eric Prisbell are writers for Sports activities Enterprise Journal, the place this text first appeared.