TSM Hires Former Pac-12 Exec Ned Watkins

TSM has hired former Pac-12 executive Ned Watkins as senior vice president of sales, bringing on a veteran of stick-and-ball sports as the high-level gaming organization looks to grow revenue, SBJ’s Adam Stern reports.

TSM will formally announce the news later today. Before joining TSM, Watkins ran his own consulting business for several months, according to his LinkedIn, after working at the Pac 12 for more than seven years where, among other things, he helped lead the launch of the Pac 12 Networks. He most recently served as senior vice president of integrated sponsorships and sales.

Watkins, who is based in San Francisco but could eventually relocate to L.A. where TSM is based, told SBJ that he is making the switch to esports because he’s been keeping an eye on how the space has been growing rapidly and sees that he can make an impact in still-developing areas of the business like branded content and bringing non-endemic partners into competitive gaming partnerships for the first time.

TSM was founded in 2009 and has a record seven LCS championships, and Watkins noted that he was also attracted to how the organization is seen as one of the more premier teams in gaming.

TSM has six current partners listed on its website – Logitech, Geico, Legion by Lenovo, Twitch, Grubhub, and Mountain Dew Gamefuel – so Watkins will have ample open categories to try to fill. TSM also has two other verticals aside from gaming in its Icon influencer product and Blitz gaming education app.

“The way I look at it is: ‘Why wouldn’t I (get into esports?’” said Watkins, who also has prior stops at CBS and Fox. “First and foremost, the opportunity for growth and the fact that non-endemic brands have just started to scratch the surface is a huge opportunity.”

In terms of bringing on new sponsors, some of the categories Watkins is most interested in are wireless, QSR, banking, e-commerce and apparel. Watkins will also be building out a more expansive sales staff but was not ready to divulge specifics on the amount of people that would be brought on or the timeframe for doing so.

TSM has also built a new $50 million performance center in L.A., and Watkins noted that this presents opportunities for sponsorship and content on top of generally being an indicator that TSM is a top-flight organization. TSM finished second to 100 Thieves in the first Valorant First Strike championship match this past weekend.

TSM stands for Team Solo-Mid, but that is its former name and the organization now only refers to itself by the initials.

“Ned has the exact skillset TSM needs to lead our important existing partnerships, and bring new valuable brands in to our organization,” Andy Dinh, founder and CEO of TSM, said in a prepared statement. “I can’t wait to see what he can do.”

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