Neal Pilson, an adjunct professor for the Master of Science in Sports Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies and president of CBS Sports for 13 years, has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Pilson’s career started after he graduated from Yale Law School in 1963 and spent six years working at a small private New York City law firm. His role involved writing contracts for clients, which came useful later on. Hearing through a friend about a job opening at Metromedia, he landed a position in the law department writing up contracts for the media company that owned dozens of TV and radio stations and produced original content for the broadcast networks. He soon transitioned to business affairs, finding himself at the head of the negotiating table for the first time.
“That was a critical change in my career,” Pilson says, “because I was now responsible for negotiating deals rather than just writing up the deals. All of a sudden, I was the lead pony at the [negotiating] table.”
Neal Pilson speaking at the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction ceremony, December 11, 2018, at the New York Hilton Midtown.
Six years later, Metromedia closed its entertainment division, and Pilson headed the law department for the William Morris Agency. When CBS came calling with an offer to revamp its sports operation, Pilson accepted and helped transform CBS into a live-sports-programming goliath. When he left CBS in 1994, he launched a consulting firm called Pilson Communications Inc., which has played an integral role in the negotiations for billions of dollars in sports-rights deals over the past two-and-a-half decades.
Read the full story at SVG News and learn more about the Master of Science in Sports Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.