When Sharon van Zwieten was hired as
senior executive producer of news at
Univision Deportes last August, she was given
eight months to launch Univision Deportes
Extra, a one-hour nightly Spanish-language
sports newscast. Both Univision Deportes,
Univision’s new 24/7 sports network, and Extra
premiered on April 7.
Getting that launch off to a successful start
meant overseeing everything from hiring anchors
Claudia Trejos, Alejandro Berry, Antoinette
Collins and Jorge Calvo to rebuilding
Univision Deportes’ studio from the ground up.
“The Univision Deportes brand is so uniquely
positioned to capture the Hispanic sports audience,”
says van Zwieten, who joined Univision
in Miami after spending five years as senior executive
producer of news for ESPN Star Sports in
Singapore. “Univision’s reach goes far and deep
for both the Spanish-language audience and for
English-speaking people who want our content
on TV, mobile, tablet or online. To have achieved
what we’ve achieved in such a short time with
such a high quality look and feel is thrilling.”
During her busy year, van Zwieten also revamped
Contacto Deportivo, TeleFutura’s sports
program. “Launching a network is an interesting
project because you have so many moving
parts and they require constant prioritization,”
says David Neal, senior VP and executive producer
for Univision Deportes. “Sharon is able
to filter through things and prioritize them
with remarkable clarity. She has unshakable
integrity as a leader, journalist and manager.”
Premiering and producing a sports program
in a language other than the one native to you
is daunting enough, but van Zwieten is not one
to shrink from a challenge. When her family
moved to Singapore in 2006, she could have
sought a job at CNBC, where she had worked
previously and where years of executive producing
at CNN would have made her a perfect fit,
but she instead chose to approach ESPN.
“I’m always up for a challenge and pushing
myself out of the comfort zone,” she says.
While at ESPN Star Sports, van Zwieten developed
and launched ESPNews, a 24-hour
pan-regional cable network; SportsCenterMalaysia;
and Score Tonight, a pan-Asian sports
show. All of that experience set her up perfectly
for her current position.
“Sports is the original breaking news,” she
says. “What’s interesting about sports that’s
different from news is that for some people,
news is background music, but most sports
fans consume their games with a laser focus.
You have to take sports just as seriously.”
Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
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