Rising Star - SportsThe Legal 500 US 2019-2021

Kendall K. Johnson

Century City
  • 10250 Constellation Blvd.
  • Suite 1100
  • Los Angeles, CA 90067
  • USA

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

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:

  • 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
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group in its US$10.6 billion acquisition of the former Fox regional sports networks from Disney
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • NextVR in connection with a multi-year partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to produce and distribute NBA games in virtual reality
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group in the formation of a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs to create Marquee Sports Network, as well as its investment in YES Network with the New York Yankees, Amazon, and other investment partners
  • The NCAA on a long-term agreement with Genius Sports to modernize the collection and distribution of its intercollegiate sports data
  • The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in connection with equity and ownership matters
  • Two NHL teams, the Dallas Stars and the Anaheim Ducks, in connection with their multi-year broadcast and media agreements with Fox Sports*
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks in connection with its multi-year broadcast and media rights agreement and ownership interest in Fox Sports Arizona
  • 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; its multi-picture development, production, financing and distribution arrangement with the Russo Brothers; its international distribution arrangement with Universal Pictures for the rights to the James Bond franchise and the rest of its film slate; its acquisition of Big Fish Entertainment; and its US$100 million co-financing arrangement with BRON Creative
  • 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
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment in connection with its approximately US$1.2 billion acquisition of Crunchyroll from AT&T
  • AMC Networks in connection with its investment in Funny Or Die
  • Netflix on its acquisition of Millarworld, the comic book publisher behind Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Wanted, which was Netflix’s first strategic acquisition
  • 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 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
  • 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)
  • Starz Entertainment in an acquisition by Lionsgate for a combination of cash and stock totaling US$4.4 billion
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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*
  • Participant Media in connection with its production, financing and distribution arrangements for various motion pictures, including A Monster Calls, Spotlight, and Deepwater Horizon

*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)

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