Steve Bornstein

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Steve Bornstein
Born (1952-04-20) April 20, 1952 (age 70)
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
OccupationCorporate executive

Steve Bornstein (born April 20, 1952) is the chairman of the Media Networks division of the gaming company Activision Blizzard. He previously held high-ranking roles at NFL Network,[1] ESPN, and ABC.[2] While at ESPN, he organized showing SportsCenter reruns during the morning hours.

Early life and education[edit]

Bornstein was born and raised in a Jewish family[3] in Fair Lawn, New Jersey to Julian Leon and Marge Frankel Bornstein. Bornstein is the youngest of four siblings, the others being Fred, Andy, and Faye.[4] He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in communications.[5]


Bornstein began his career as a producer, and later executive producer, at WOSU-TV in Columbus, Ohio. He also worked with Warner-Amex Cable, producing Ohio State Buckeyes football programming for the company's interactive QUBE system.[6]


In January 1980, he joined ESPN as the manager of program coordination when the cable sports network was a four-month-old start-up. During his time as manager of programming coordination, he developed and implemented ESPN's successful programming philosophy of presenting a mix of events, sports news and special interest programming. In 1988, Bornstein was promoted to Executive Vice President of Programming and Production. He advanced through the network's programming and production ranks, becoming ESPN's youngest president and CEO in 1990 at age 38.[7]

In January 1992, ESPN Radio was launched and began a rollout of 24-hour programming in October 1998. Also in 1992, Bornstein established the subsidiary ESPN Enterprises to develop new businesses like, which has grown to become the leading sports news and information site on the internet.[8]

Bornstein helped to oversee the debut of ESPN2 in October 1993 and ESPNews in November 1996. In October 1997, Bornstein directed the acquisition of Classic Sports Network and rebranded the channel as ESPN Classic, adding yet another network to the ESPN family.[9] Additionally, Bornstein oversaw the development of ESPN International, which has grown to include ownership - in whole or in part - of 24 television networks internationally, as well as a variety of additional businesses that allow ESPN to reach sports fans in over 61 countries and territories across all seven continents.[10]

In March 1998, ESPN the Magazine was launched as a joint venture of Disney Publishing and ESPN with distribution being handled by Hearst Magazines.[10]

Throughout his time at ESPN, the network created the SportsCenter franchise, NFL Countdown, NFL PrimeTime, Baseball Tonight and the Outside the Lines series. In addition to his contributions to ESPN programming, Bornstein developed the X Games and Winter X Games, week-long extreme sports competitions.[11] Bornstein is also credited with the creation of the ESPYs Awards, short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award. First awarded in 1993.[10]

During his tenure at ESPN, Bornstein's team won 59 Emmys and 57 Cable Ace Awards.[citation needed]

American Broadcasting Company[edit]

In April 1996, Bornstein was named President of ABC Sports.[12] In a short time, Bornstein established ABC Sports as the preeminent network of college football, creating the College Football Championship Series, and extending contracts with all major CFB conferences.

In 1999, Bornstein was named President of ABC, where he was responsible for all the media network and cable assets at ABC/Disney.[13]

NFL Network[edit]

In January 2003, Bornstein was appointed president and CEO of NFL Network and Executive Vice President of Media[14] by then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.[15] While at the NFL, Bornstein oversaw the league's media division, which included the relationships with national broadcast and sponsorship partners as well as NFL-owned media assets and revenue.

In November 2003, Bornstein launched NFL Network, which was the most widely distributed sports network in the history of the industry when it launched and became the youngest network ever to win a Sports Emmy after just 58 days on the air.[16]

In 2009, Bornstein spearheaded the creation of NFL RedZone, the widely acclaimed channel produced by NFL Network that whips around live to every NFL game on Sunday afternoons delivering the touchdowns and most exciting moments to viewers.[17]

Under Bornstein's leadership, NFL Network and NFL RedZone completed distribution deals with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable in 2012.[18] Currently in more than 72 million homes, NFL Network now has carriage agreements with each of the country's largest television providers including Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse.[19]

Ultimately, Bornstein would bring the league's internet and mobile assets in-house and help build NFL Media into a collection of league-owned media assets including NFL Network,, NFL Mobile, NFL RedZone, NFL Now, and NFL Films along with the NFL's social media platforms.

While building out and growing the NFL's own media assets, Bornstein reconfigured and repackaged the NFL's television assets and helped the league bring NBC back into the fold, move Monday Night Football to ESPN, introduced flexible scheduling, and created a new package of Thursday primetime games for NFL Network. Bornstein was instrumental in the December 2011 landmark nine-year extensions with CBS, FOX and NBC which continue the NFL's tradition on broadcast television through the 2022 season. Those new deals came just three months after he helped secure an eight-year agreement to keep Monday Night Football on ESPN until 2021.[20]

Bornstein also helped lead renewal negotiations in 2014 with DirecTV for exclusive rights to carry NFL Sunday Ticket and its package of every Sunday afternoon out-of-market game through a new multi-year agreement. The 2014 renewal also expanded DirecTV's rights to stream NFL Sunday Ticket live on mobile devices and via broadband, known as NFL Sunday Ticket TV.

In 2014, Bornstein was succeeded by Brian Rolapp as CEO of NFL Network.

Charitable activities[edit]

Bornstein takes part in numerous charitable activities with a wide range of organizations. He is the founder and current board chair of The V Foundation, one of the nation's cancer research funding organizations, which has raised more than $125 million for cancer research in the name of late college basketball coach Jim Valvano.[5] In addition, he has served on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, the National Cable Television Association, Hampton University, Steamboat Ventures, and Infoseek.

Activision Blizzard and[edit]

On October 21 video game publisher Activision Blizzard announced the establishment of a new esports competitive video game division headed by Chairman Steve Bornstein and Senior Vice President Mike Sespo of Major League Gaming.[21]

He is currently on the board of directors for hudl.

Personal life[edit]

Bornstein lives in Los Angeles with his wife Carol and four children.[22]


  1. ^ "NFL Network executive Steve Bornstein to retire". Awful Announcing.
  2. ^ "Mr. Touchdown For NFL TV Deals". Business Week. October 17, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times: "NFL's Steve Bornstein defends Thursday games, talks new package" by Joe Flint October 28, 2013
  4. ^ Hiestano, Michael. "Pioneer steers ABC, ESPN to top of game", USA Today, December 10, 1997. Accessed March 29, 2011. "He grew up on TV in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he fantasized about becoming an Olympic skier."
  5. ^ a b "Steven M. Bornstein - The V Foundation for Cancer Research".
  6. ^ "Wisconsin Legislative Council" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Bornstein succeeds Werner as ESPN president, CEO. (Steven M. Bornstein; Roger Werner)". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24 – via
  8. ^ "ESPN Sees Drop In Unique Visitors, But Still Easily Tops April ComScore Rankings". Sports Business Daily.
  9. ^ "ESPN Agrees to Buy Cable TV's Classic Sports Network". Los Angeles Times. September 4, 1997.
  10. ^ a b c "ESPN, Inc. Fact Sheet". ESPN MediaZone.
  11. ^ "A Brief History of the X Games". Time. January 22, 2009.
  12. ^ "Former ESPN, ABC, NFL Network President Steve Bornstein Joins PBA Board of Directors". Professional Bowlers Association.
  14. ^ Miller, Shales, James Andrew, Tom. Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN (PDF). p. 544.
  15. ^ Mike Ozanian (June 1, 2013). "How Steve Bornstein Built The NFL Network Into A $5 Billion Business". Forbes.
  16. ^ "NFL Network". NFL Network.
  17. ^ "NFL Network will launch new 'NFL RedZone' channel this season". NFL Network.
  18. ^ "NFL Network, Time Warner Cable reach multiyear agreement". NFL.
  19. ^ James Andrew Miller; Richard Sandomir (October 28, 2013). "NFL Network's 10-Year Gains: 13 Games and 72 Million Homes". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  20. ^ "Steve Bornstein". Broadcasting & Cable.
  21. ^ Morris, Chris (October 22, 2015). "Why Activision-Blizzard just launched a new eSports division". Fortune. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  22. ^ "Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame: Steve Bornstein, A Fiery Leader and Dynamic Innovator  : Sports Video Group".