Kendall Johnson works at the intersection of sports and entertainment, drawing on her unique level of crossover experience to handle transactions spanning across the industry.

Combining broad transactional experience and sophisticated industry knowledge, Ms. Johnson regularly navigates complex transactions on behalf of key stakeholders in the sports and entertainment business. She works with a mix of clients based both in the US and internationally, including:

  • Professional teams, governing bodies, and other major sports organizations
  • Television networks and motion picture studios
  • Digital and new media content distributors
  • Independent production companies
  • Strategic investors
  • High-level individual talent

Ms. Johnson delivers creative and commercially focused advice in connection with the licensing, acquisition, production, financing, and exploitation of broadcast and sponsorship rights, film and television content, and other media-related assets. Her practice work includes:

  • Licensing of media rights for college, international, and professional sports organizations across traditional broadcast and new media platforms
  • Strategic joint venture arrangements
  • Film and television financing and distribution transactions
  • Complex content and brand licensing arrangements
  • Mergers and acquisitions

She currently serves as a Vice Chair for Latham's Recruiting Committee. Prior to joining Latham, Ms. Johnson worked in the Stanford University athletic department, where she acted as the primary public relations contact for various teams, collaborated closely with sports television networks, and coordinated media efforts for numerous NCAA Championship events.

Ms. Johnson’s experience includes advising:

 

Sports

Media Rights
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the eight-year extension of its multimedia rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship
  • The International Olympic Committee in connection with the US$7.75 billion licensing of broadcast and new media rights in the United States, as well as its ongoing licensing and management of media, sponsorship, and other intellectual property rights
  • Facebook in its acquisition of sports distribution rights across the globe, including its historic bid for Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket rights in the summer of 2017
  • US Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport, in a television and digital rights agreement with NBC covering domestic and international events through 2026
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks in connection with their multi-year broadcast and media rights agreement and ownership interest in Fox Sports Arizona
  • The Stronach Group on multi-year agreements for broadcast and media agreements to the Preakness Triple Crown and other premier horse racing events and related programming on NBC and NBC Sports Network
  • Two NHL teams, the Dallas Stars and the Anaheim Ducks, in connection with their multi-year broadcast and media agreements with Fox Sports*

Acquisitions and Investments

  • Sinclair Broadcast Group in its:
    • US$10.6 billion acquisition of the former Fox regional sports networks from Disney
    • Formation of a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs to create Marquee Sports Network
    • Investment in YES Network with the New York Yankees and other investment partners
  • A group of US sports and media investors in a strategic partnership with the International Basketball Association (FIBA) to invest in the Basketball Champions League (BCL) and other global basketball competitions
  • Endeavor in its acquisition of a majority stake in the premium hospitality company On Location Experiences and related negotiation of On Location’s long-term commercial partnership with the NFL
  • The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in connection with equity and ownership matters

IP and New Technology

  • The NCAA on a long-term agreement with Genius Sports to modernize the collection and distribution of its intercollegiate sports data
  • Buzzer, a micropayments-based sports content app, in its rights deals to distribute NBA and NHL content
  • NextVR in connection with a multi-year partnership with the NBA to produce and distribute games in virtual reality

Entertainment

Acquisitions and Investments

  •  MGM in its:
    • Acquisition by Amazon for US$8.45 billion merger with Amazon
    • Acquisition of Big Fish Entertainment
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment in its:
    • Approximately US$1.2 billion acquisition of Crunchyroll from AT&T
    • Sale of GSN Games to Scopely
  • Mountain (MNTN), a leading self-serve performance TV platform, in its acquisition of Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Marketing
  • Starz Entertainment in an acquisition by Lionsgate for a combination of cash and stock totaling US$4.4 billion
  • Netflix on its acquisition of Millarworld, the comic book publisher behind Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Wanted, which was Netflix’s first strategic acquisition
  • AMC Networks in connection with its investment in Funny Or Die

Talent-Driven Joint Ventures

  • Mast-Jägermeister in connection with its investment in Teremana, the tequila founded by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • A-Frame Brands in joint venture transactions to launch talent-driven brands with Naomi Osaka, John Legend, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union
  • Equity investors in connection with the re-launch of Castle Rock Entertainment’s film division in partnership with Rob Reiner
  • Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America, Avengers: Infinity War) in their partnership with China's Huayi Brothers to form film and content company, AGBO
  • MGM in the formation and acquisition of United Artists Media Group and the purchase of certain reality television and other media assets of Mark Burnett (including Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice)
  • Participant Media in its joint venture with DreamWorks Studios, Steven Spielberg, Reliance Entertainment, and Entertainment One to form Amblin Partners
  • Univision Communications in connection with the formation and capitalization of Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, including the financing and distribution of From Dusk Till Dawn and other original series
  • Producer Brian Oliver in connection with the launch and capitalization of New Republic Pictures and various motion picture financing and distribution arrangements, including a multi-picture co-financing agreement with Paramount and financing arrangements for 1917 and Rocketman
  • Brad Weston in the creation of MAKEREADY, a global content production company with backing from Entertainment One and worldwide distribution by Universal Pictures
  • Techstyle in connection with a brand endorsement venture with Rihanna
  • A major restaurant enterprise in connection with a brand ambassador and consulting agreement with Oprah Winfrey

Strategic Commercial Transactions

  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association in its broadcast and other entertainment industry transactions, including its most recent eight-year media rights agreement with NBC and Dick Clark Productions for the broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards
  • MGM in a variety of strategic transactions, including its:
    • Multi-year joint venture with Annapurna Pictures for the domestic distribution of MGM films
    • Multi-picture development, production, financing and distribution arrangement with the Russo Brothers
    • International distribution arrangement with Universal Pictures for the rights to the James Bond franchise and the rest of its film slate
    • Co-financing arrangements with BRON Studios
  • Spotify in the rollout of Greenroom, its live audio app
  • Hammerstone Studios in the formation and capitalization of a gaming investment fund, as well as the co-financing by the fund of a prototype for a “Black 5” video game with Rogue Games, Columbia Pictures, and others
  • Verizon in connection with various content financing and distribution arrangements, as well as a joint venture with Hearst Communications and the acquisition of Complex Media
  • International Game Technology in the licensing of film and television-related intellectual property for use on various gaming devices and online gaming platforms
  • Participant Media in connection with its production, financing and distribution arrangements for various motion pictures, including A Monster Calls, Spotlight, and Deepwater Horizon
  • Starz Entertainment in an international joint venture for the creation of an over-the-top entertainment platform to be launched as “Starz Play” in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America*

*Matter handled prior to joining Latham

Thought Leadership

“Enforceable Fair and Square: The Right of Publicity, Unconscionability, and NCAA Student-Athlete Contracts,” 19 Sports Law J. 1 (Spring 2012)

Bar Qualification

  • California

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles, 2012
  • BS, Santa Clara University, 2006

Languages Spoken

  • English