Masters of the Sports Universe

Commissioners of MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA Discuss Brand-building, Media Partnerships and Overseas Expansion

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NEW YORK ( -- They are the four most powerful men in American sports: David Stern, Roger Goodell, Bud Selig and Gary Bettman. They discuss with Advertising Age's Rich Thomaselli their roles not just as commissioners of the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, but as brand stewards in a competitive market for the entertainment dollar.

David Stern: Building Brand NBA

David Stern
Commissioner David Stern, who has been called his league's de facto CMO, is all about "Brand NBA." And like any good marketer, he is trying to grow the brand. One market is China, where the league is already expanding at a quick pace and is devoting its resources to expand even faster through marketing partnerships, television, digital media and retail.

Roger Goodell: Readying for Sports' Biggest Day

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell is getting ready for his first Super Bowl as commissioner of the National Football League. The league is running ads during the big game this year to promote its NFL Network. But despite owning the cable network, Mr. Goodell told Advertising Age that the league isn't abandoning its broadcast TV partners: "We have a unique commitment to broadcast television with all of our games televised on free over-the-air TV. We are the only sports league that does that."

Bud Selig: Presiding Over Record Attendance and Revenue

Bud Selig
In the 14 years since Allan H. "Bud" Selig took over Major League Baseball, revenue has more than quadrupled to $5.2 billion, thanks in large part to aggressive marketing and corporate sponsorship. Coming off a third consecutive season of record-setting attendance, the commissioner talks about weathering the steroid storm, the World Baseball Classic -- and a 2009 retirement.

Gary Bettman: Kept Sponsors Despite Losing Entire Season

Gary Bettman
After a lockout canceled its entire 2004-2005 season, Gary Bettman's NHL returned last year to record attendance and record revenue. The commissioner credits the strength of the brand, and cites efforts to reconnect with the league's tech-savvy fans via new media such as, where traffic is up 100% over last year.
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