NBA on ESPN Spotlight: ESPN employees who are hard at work bringing you NBA Playoffs (Part 4)

Ashley O’Connor. (Photo courtesy Ashley O’Connor)
Ashley O’Connor on the job. (Photo courtesy Ashley O’Connor)

Every week during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, ESPN is spotlighting one of its many dedicated employees who works “behind-the-scenes” to make the NBA on ESPN a success. Today, we catch up with Ashley O’Connor, Senior Manager, Programming.

How would you describe your ESPN NBA job?
My job has a few different aspects, including working closely with the NBA regarding the overall NBA on ESPN strategy, television schedule and commercial formats, as well as finding additional opportunities to maximize our NBA rights. I am also the “clearing house” on inquiries regarding the NBA contract. At this point in the Playoffs, we are watching to see how the series play out to make sure we are capitalizing on opportunities across all of our platforms. In addition, I have regular communication with the NBA to ensure the Playoffs run as smoothly as possible.

Doug White, Senior Director II, Programming & Acquisitions:

“Ashley is an excellent asset to us here in Programming. During her time working on the NBA property, she’s established herself as a major resource to both our ESPN NBA team and to the NBA. Her “Can-Do” attitude and her incredible ability to multi-task has led to her running point for us on a number of initiatives, including NBA Summer League, D League, International NBA games, WNBA, USA Basketball games, and all FIBA Basketball events. “

What is game day at the NBA Finals like for you?
I attend the production meeting hosted by Tim Corrigan and his team. Following the meeting, my day includes phone calls with Sales Planning to get an update on the sell-thrus, work with formatting and commercial operations to ensure everything is set to run within the game, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the day. I meet with the NBA to talk about next year’s schedule, discuss outstanding business deals, and catch up on joint initiatives. During the game, I sit in the truck as a liaison with the league and serve as a resource to the production team.

Who are some of the colleagues that help you get your job done?
We have such an amazing team working on the NBA it is hard to list everyone. Without strong communication with sports management, finance, sales planning, consumer marketing, production, audience research, International, digital and communications, it would be impossible for me to do anything.

What’s your best moment at work?
I was very lucky to be part of the negotiating team this past fall when we renewed our deal with the NBA. I had previously been part of “prep” teams, but this was my first time sitting at the table finalizing a large-scale contract. It was one of the most educational and rewarding experiences in my time at ESPN.

What is your favorite part of the NBA Playoffs?
The Playoffs are a culmination of 18 months of preparation. We began planning for the 2014-15 NBA season in January 2013, and to see the hard work from across the company paying off during the best NBA games of the year is very rewarding.

Who’s your NBA team?
I went to school at Creighton University and was lucky enough to work with the Bluejay men’s basketball program. Two Creighton alums are still active in the Playoffs – Kyle Korver (who I went to school with) in Atlanta and Doug McDermott in Chicago. So, needless to say, I’m a Hawks fan who is also pulling for the Bulls.

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