Adeshola proud of sports relationships built during Twitter run

Adeshola proud of sports relationships built during Twitter run

A decade ago, the sports media business viewed social media companies like Twitter and Facebook as potential competitors.

At the time, the social media companies marketed themselves as disrupters in the media business and started dabbling with sports rights.

In 2016, for example, Twitter reached a deal to stream the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package. The following year, Facebook signed a deal to carry MLB games.

While Twitter, in particular, continued to embrace its role as a media disrupter, it also made a point to work with the media companies it was disrupting.

TJ Adeshola knew the importance of building relationships one hashtag at a time.kenny st. george

TJ Adeshola was the Twitter executive tasked with forging and maintaining those relationships. Adeshola, a member of SBJ’s Forty Under 40 class in 2020announced last week that he had left his role as head of global content partnerships at the social media platform.

“Disruption often has a negative connotation, but we approached disruption from a partnership perspective,” Adeshola said. “‘Hey NFL, hey NHL, hey NBA, what do you want to change? How do you want to innovate? … Let’s do these things to drive affinity and drive engagement around your platform.’ For us, we led with a model that was partner-first and partner-centric.”

That shouldn’t come as a big surprise: Adeshola was tasked with establishing relationships between Twitter and sports leagues. As news of Adeshola’s decision to leave Twitter leaked out last week, it became clear how successful his push was to establish deep relationships throughout the business.

Adeshola is one of the most well-liked and well-respected executives in the sports business. Check out the mentions underneath last week’s tweet when I broke news of his departure. Sentiment about Adeshola universally was positive across a broad range of companies.

“I’m thankful that I was able to lead something that never existed before,” he said. “Here I am 10 years later, and we have multiyear partnerships with the biggest leagues in all of sports and relationships from Roger Goodell to Adam Silver to everyone in the business.”

The result turned Twitter into the world’s largest global sports bar, with fans becoming even more engaged during the games as they tweeted their thoughts and scrolled for information about the teams and players.

Over the last year, Adeshola and his team helped global media companies use Twitter more effectively. Adeshola achieved this by breaking a media company’s Twitter plan into three pillars: expanding reach and distribution; driving revenue; and increasing engagement.

That led to having the NFL put tweets on its Super Bowl confetti, MLB adding tweets on World Series baseballs that it mailed to fans, and NASCAR putting tweets on the Daytona 500 racetrack.

“We did all of those things,” he said. “I oversaw the global team that was tasked with the largest relationships in media and content, and we helped them achieve engagement, unlock revenue and drive innovation.”

News of Adeshola’s departure did not come as a huge surprise. After all, Twitter’s executive ranks have been in upheaval since Elon Musk bought the platform nearly six months ago. During that time, Twitter’s full-time employee count has dropped from nearly 8,000 to 1,500. Defections included executives who worked in sports such as Sarah Rosen and Maggie McLean Suniewick.

But Adeshola’s decision had more to do with growing his career, he said, than anything else.

“This is a story about a new challenge,” he said. “I’ve been at the Twitter for 10 years and had an incredible run. We built something that never existed before in 2016.”

Adeshola is, perhaps, proudest of his role in setting up a diverse workforce at Twitter. That helped him push women’s sports and promote minority-run companies during his tenure.

“I was very intentional about that,” he said. “Building diverse and inclusive teams requires thoughtfulness. It requires effort. It requires intentionality. And quite honestly, I didn’t see enough of it in the industry, so I had to set an example. I had to show people that it could be done.”

Who’s Up, Who’s Down

On our podcast every week, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand and I pick someone in sports media who’s had a good week, and someone who hasn’t. Here are our selections from last week.

Who’s Up

Ourand: Luis Silberwasser, chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports

Why: “WBD’s cost-cutting is over. NBA ratings are up. WBD’s NBA footing today looks a lot better than a couple of months ago.”

Marchand: Miked-up players at the Masters

Why: “It’s good that golf is opening up.”

Who’s Down

Ourand: Chad Steele, senior vice president, communications, Baltimore Ravens

Why: “When the team’s PR head tried to stop Lamar Jackson questions at a press conference, it was not a good look for the team or the league.”

Marchand: Lorne Michaels, “SNL” producer

Why: “An ‘SNL’ skit focused on the trash talk between LSU’s Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Here’s the thing: It was terrible. It was not funny. There’s so much opportunity to be funny in that situation.”

John Ourand can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ and read his weekly newsletter and listen to his weekly podcast.

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