ESPN leaders headline next wave of sport luminaries announced for 2024 SportNXT

SportNXT, the annual global sport business summit held 19th to 21st March 2024 in Melbourne, Australia, has announced the next wave of esteemed international and domestic speakers who will participate in-person or virtually at the third annual summit.

The prestigious sport business gathering will bring together leaders from across the globe to share insights, ignite conversations, generate business and discuss what will shape the future of the sports industry for the 1,000+ delegates expected to attend.

Following previous speaker announcements, the event organisers have confirmed this week that a further 27 world-class speakers will participate in the event.

The announcement was headlined by the participation of ESPN Chairman, Jimmy Pitaro and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, who is also President of The Western Bulldogs AFL Club.

Ms. Watson-Wheeler will deliver a keynote address exploring the rise of US sports fandom in Australia and changing behaviours of the next generation of sports fans, and following that will conduct a virtual interview with one of the most influential figures in world sport, Mr Pitaro, who will join live from the US.

  • Jimmy Pitaro – as Chairman of ESPN, Mr. Pitaro leads one of the three core business segments of The Walt Disney Company, overseeing ESPN’s entire portfolio of sports content and sports networks, products, and experiences across all of The Walt Disney Company’s platforms worldwide.
  • Kylie Watson-Wheeler – Senior Vice President and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand and President of the AFL’s Western Bulldogs FC. Ms. Watson-Wheeler oversees The Walt Disney Company in Australia and NZ across film, TV, live events, digital, home entertainment, content distribution and streaming services, and has regional responsibility across Asia Pacific for ESPN.

Other notable speakers announced this week include:

  • Krishna Bhagavathula – Chief Technology Officer and SVP of the US’s National Basketball Association (NBA), is responsible for setting the NBA’s technology strategy and ensuring alignment with the league’s objectives. He leads teams that deliver best-in-class applications, systems and infrastructure to support the league, staff, and its 30 teams.
  • Dame Valerie Adams DNZM – Chair of World Athletics Athletes’ Commission and retired New Zealand shot putter, four-time world champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medallist and three-time Commonwealth Games champion.
  • Shaun Harvey – a strategic advisor to the board and a current director of Wrexham AFC. With 30 years in the UK Football industry and a consultant to FIFA, he has been leading the journey portrayed in the Disney/FX docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham”, the five-time Emmy Award-winning show currently recording its third season with Hollywood actors and co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds.
  • Kieren Perkins OAM – is regarded as one of the world’s greatest distance swimmers having won four Olympic medals. Mr Perkins was President of Swimming Australia until he took on the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Sports Commission in March 2022. His focus in this new role is to ensure sport has a place for everyone and delivers results that make Australia proud.
  • Aleda Collective Group – Ex-AFL Western Bulldogs turned founder of Aleda Group, Luke Darcy, will interview NBA winning coach, Mike Dunlap, AFL premiership coach of Collingwood FC, Craig McRae, Australian Men’s Cricket Coach, Andrew McDonald, and head coach of Western United, A-League, John Aloisi. The coaches will share their experience of the Aleda Connect program, and how they are unlocking the power of collaborative learning, and what lessons can be learnt for leaders of business.

Additional international and domestic leaders announced include: Nikhil Bardia – RISE Worldwide Ltd, Jenny Simpson – Major Events Group Alliance / Football Australia, Kylie Rogers – AFL, Professor Johan Rockström – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (virtual), Alexandra Chalat – Qatar Foundation, Echo Li – Dentsu Sport International, Ken Martin – Cisco, Skarpi Hedinsson – LA Rams, Rebecca McCloy – Foxtel Group, Steven Reynolds – Discover Qatar, Michael Wilkins – News Sport Network, Emma Pocock – FrontRunners, Glenn Lovett – Dentsu Sports Analytics, Christy Collier-Hill – WNBL/Basketball Australia, Jan Fitzgerald – Sports Environment Alliance, Sachin Kumar – News Sport Network, and Jacqueline Comer – Areto Labs.

SportNXT – New Year Offer: Avail of specially-discounted rates until 18 February by clicking this link SportNXT Tickets Those interested in attending the SVB LIVE Global Networking Event in Perth on March 12th before heading to SportNXT, contact for details on some very special bundle discounts!

These recently announced speakers join an already impressive list of thought leaders previously confirmed, including:

    • American sports business mogul Casey Wasserman, Chair of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (virtual)
    • Andrew Liveris AO, President Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee
    • Alan Gilpin, CEO, World Rugby
    • Brett Gosper, Head of Europe and APAC, NFL
    • Catherine Carlson, EVP of Global Partnerships, BSE Global, owners of the Brooklyn Nets, NY Liberty, and Barclays Center
    • Rebecca Sowden, Founder of Correct the Internet and Team Heroine 
    • Rowena Samarasinhe, Founder and owner of GENSport

Domestic sport leaders include Andrew Dillon, Travis Auld, Jennifer Watt, James Sutherland, and many more.

The complete list of confirmed speakers participating at SportNXT 2024 can be found online here.

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Steve Dimopoulos MP, said:

We can’t wait to welcome this great group of speakers from across the sporting world as Melbourne’s backs another valuable discussion on the business of sport.

Victoria boasts a packed sport and major events calendar and a world-class, innovative sport ecosystem. Giving these thought leaders and all SportNXT attendees a taste of what our state can offer will generate important connections for Victorian sport businesses and reinforce our reputation as sport leaders.

SportNXT Chair Eddie McGuire said:

SportNXT has quickly established itself as one of the pre-eminent sport summits globally, and 2024 will be our biggest event yet. We look forward to hosting, and offering delegates insights from, an unrivalled collection of sports brightest minds.

Where else can you hear from the likes of Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN, Casey Wasserman and Andrew Liveris AO, the Chairs of LA2028 and Brisbane 2032 Olympics, respectively, and major international sporting organisations like the NFL, World Rugby, the NBA, LaLiga, Miami Heat, and LA Rams. Combine that with most influential leaders and businesses in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, it makes SportNXT a must attend for anyone in the business of sport.

Further speaker and agenda announcements are planned for the coming weeks.


SportNXT is the leading sport business summit in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the world’s pre-eminent sport conferences.

SportNXT 2023 attracted nearly 900 delegates from 21 countries, with over 50% comprising c-suite, board, and senior sport leaders, facilitating valuable networking opportunities with industry decision-makers.

Renowned past speakers have included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Formula 1® President and CEO Stefano Domenicali, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm, all Australian League Commissioners, and executives from the likes of News Corp Australia, J.P. Morgan, The Walt Disney Company, FIFA, Foxtel, Silver Lake, and ONE Championship.

Source & imagery, courtesy: SportNTX

Sports Venue Business (SVB) is delighted to be a Media Partner for SportNXT, especially with our new SVB LIVE offerings including the first Global Networking Events in Perth, Australia, on March 12th, in addition to a webinar series, culminating in an annual conference & exhibition – to be held at Croke Park on October 9th & 10th – plus the exclusive, subscription-only SVB Global Report outlining New Builds, Renovations & Major Refurbishment projects.

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