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Karen Brodkin

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When the Fox Sports executive team headed to Lausanne, Switzerland, in June to make its official bid for TV rights to the International Olympic Committee for the 2014 and 2016 Games, it had in hand a contract that was in large part put together by Karen Brodkin, senior VP, business and legal affairs for Fox Cable Networks.

While Brodkin didn’t accompany the team, she was the person behind the scenes who interacted with IOC lawyers over a period of months to put the bid together.

It’s the latest TV rights bid that Brodkin has helped craft. Prior to that, she figured prominently in Fox’s 10-year, $220 million TV rights deal with the Pac-12 conference that was signed in May. In that deal, she was part of the team that determined things like what sports rights Fox would acquire, what networks within the Fox Sports Group the games would appear on and how much they would pay.

David Hill, Fox Sports Group chairman and chief executive; Fox Sports President Eric Shanks; and Fox Regional Sports Group President Randy Freer are all regularly prominent in media coverage, but the under-the-radar Brodkin is always right in the mix behind the scenes.

Brodkin oversees and manages all business affairs and legal matters for Fox Sports, the broadcast TV division of FSG. She manages all network rights agreements for the NFL, MLB and NASCAR, as well as legal and business affairs for Fox Sports Interactive Media. She also handles similar duties for Fox Regional Sports Networks on the cable side. And when TV rights deals come up for renewal, she is part of the business plan strategy team.

Though Brodkin has never experienced any problems with being a woman in a mostly male environment, the highest-ranking female sports business executive at Fox admits: “You have to have a thick skin” and “not be easily offended.

“You have to be tough, aggressive and resilient,” says the first lawyer hired by Fox to work with the Sports Group, in 1998. “And, you have to be an asset in the room.”

What has it been like working for Hill for more than a decade? “I think I have a very good working relationship with David,” Brodkin says. “He has a vision, and my job is to help frame that vision through acquisitions, to help create a path for him to get deals done.” —John Consoli