January 16, 2008 - Los Angeles, CA - Championship Gaming SeriesTM (CGS), the only worldwide professional video gaming league, today formally rounded out its executive team. Drawing top talent from all corners of the sports, entertainment, new media and gaming industries, the team includes Geoff Stevens as Chief Operating Officer, Michael Burks as Executive Producer, Kieve Huffman as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Sales, Michael Widman as General Counsel. Scott Valencia as Senior Vice President of Operations and Jason Katz as Vice President of Global Marketing.
Each brings a wealth of experience to further the worldwide expansion of CGS as a revolutionary sports and entertainment property focused on the $35 billion dollar global video game market. They join CEO and Commissioner Andy Reif, who joined CGS after seven years at the helm of AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
CGS is breaking new ground in video game sports and entertainment as we broadcast to more than 350 million viewers around the globe and continue to expand to multiple distribution platforms, said Reif. This group of leaders is the all-star team which will redefine sports entertainment in the digital age.
As Chief Operating Officer for CGS, Geoff Stevens oversees strategy, marketing, finance, operations, international and digital media (online and mobile). Stevens most recently served as the Vice President of product management at mobile entertainment provider Infospace, overseeing the development and management of mobile media product lines which contributed more than $100 million in annualized revenue, via direct and third party distribution (with such companies as AT&T, T-Mobile and Alltel). Prior to Infospace, Stevens was General Manager of Local & Mobile for Yahoo!, where he successfully built and managed a multimillion dollar P&L on innovative, best-in-class product offerings. Previous to Yahoo!, Stevens was an executive with The Walt Disney Company, serving in a series of business development, product management and marketing management positions across television, online, and digital media business lines.
Michael Burks serves as Executive Producer for CGS. Burks, alongside producers Melody Shafir and Neil Porter, are responsible for creating the CGS television look and for developing the first-ever live HD coverage of professional gaming. Burks is an 11-time Emmy-award winner, who has produced more than 2,300 shows worldwide. He has produced 25 NFL seasons, and has been part of eight Super Bowls for CBS and FOX. He has also produced 25 NBA seasons, including ten NBA Finals, ten All-Star Games for CBS and TNT and seventeen March Madness Tournaments for CBS. Burks' talent for producing live-action sports television also includes five Olympics, where he produced the Alpine, snowboard and basketball coverage for CBS and NBC. Burks' resume includes coverage of more than 20 different sports worldwide.
As Senior Vice President, Business Development and Sales, Kieve Huffman oversees all business development and sales initiatives, including sponsorships, strategic partnerships, licensing and distribution. Huffman has over 17 years of entertainment licensing, digital business development, and online/mobile/strategic marketing experience. He most recently served as the Vice President of Media for Infospace, the #1 mobile content provider in North America, responsible for their media strategy, licensing, and development worldwide. Prior to that, he served as the VP and GM for Sony BMG's Global Digital Business Group, the second-largest global record company where he managed the digital sales and licensing negotiations for all new technology deals. Huffman was also responsible for managing all existing US online and mobile business relationships. Previously, he was the VP of Digital Marketing and Licensing for BMG Strategic Marketing Group, overseeing their partnerships for all online and mobile content offerings.
Michael J. Widman joins CGS as General Counsel following executive positions with The Walt Disney Company, where he served as Vice President of Business Development for Disney's Corporate Alliances Department, and Simon Marketing, the global consumer products and marketing services company, specializing in entertainment and sports-related marketing, licensing and promotional programs. Mr. Widman has negotiated transactions worth over $5 billion including portfolio film financings, licensing arrangements and global sponsorship and marketing partnerships with companies such as FedEx, Kodak, GM, Nestle, AT&T and Coca-Cola. Mr. Widman also completed and implemented Disney's ground-breaking marketing partnership with McDonald's and MasterCard's partnership with NBC-Universal. Most recently, Widman was a partner with Cabana Group, an entertainment and sponsorship consultancy where he represented companies such as MasterCard International on transactions involving, film, television and location-based entertainment properties.
Scott Valencia, one the of pioneers in pro gaming, serves as Senior Vice President Global Operations for CGS, supervising global league operations for CGS events and tournaments. Prior to joining the CGS, Valencia was Executive Vice President of Games Media Properties, where he helped develop the World Series of Video Games. Valencia was previously Vice President of worldwide operations for The Cyberathlete Professional League, where he was the principal creator of the CPL World Gaming Tour. He began his career in gaming as the founder of CyberArena in 1997, an online/LAN tournament league purchased by CompUSA in 2000. Valencia was then named Executive Director of CompUSA's new gaming division, GameFixx, established to increase CompUSA's visibility within the gaming community.
Jason Katz serves as Vice President Global Marketing, overseeing the league's worldwide marketing efforts, including brand development, advertising, promotion, public relations, and event marketing. Most recently, he served as Director of Gaming at the world's top interactive marketing agency, Tribal DDB, on Madison Avenue in New York, where he was responsible for creating and executing gaming strategy for clients such as Mountain Dew and McDonald's. After beginning his career as an entertainment lawyer in Chicago, Katz later made the transition from attorney to marketing strategist at DraftWorldwide in Chicago, representing such clients as M&M/Mars, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and RJ Reynolds.
About Championship Gaming Series
Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, the Championship Gaming Series (CGS) is the only worldwide professional video gaming league. Launched in 2007, and a joint venture among BSkyB, DIRECTV and STAR, CGS features teams of the world's best gamers from North America, Latin America, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The league distributes entertainment content to more than 350 million viewers worldwide via DIRECTV in North America and Latin America, BSkyB in the UK, and STAR in Asia and Australia. CGS sponsors include Mountain Dew, Dell XPS, Xbox 360 and Creative Labs.