John Skipper

The State of ESPN with President John Skipper

ESPN held its media today at the Bristol campus.  I was fortunate enough to attend and will be posting interviews over the next day or so.

One of the highlights of the day was a lunch-time Q&A session by ESPN President John Skipper.  Skipper took questions from the assembled media for over an hour and touched upon a number of topics…from the competition from Fox Sports 1, to the re-hiring of Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock, to the escalation of rights fees, and to the likelihood of live sports content migrating exclusively online.

Instead of picking out the highlights of Skipper’s comments I thought it best to post his entire Q&A session as a podcast.   The podcast is a long listen at over an hour, but gives us a good look at the state of ESPN.

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ESPN Announces Slight Changes in Executive Structure

John Skipper became ESPN’s president on January 1st and today he announced some changes to the executive staff at the WWL.

The biggest news is the swapping of roles for Executive Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions, John Wildhack and Executive Vice President, Production, Norby Williamson.

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital and Print Media, John Kosner has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Digital and Print Media while  Marie Donoghue, who has been Senior Vice President, Business Affairs and Business Development, will take on the new role of Senior Vice President, Global Strategy, Business Development and Business Affairs. 

The following ESPN executives will remain in their current roles: Sean Bratches (EVP Sales and Marketing), Christine Driessen (EVP and CFO), Ed Durso (EVP Administration), Chuck Pagano (EVP Technology and CTO), Paul Richardson (SVP Human Resources), John Walsh (EVP and Executive Editor) and Russell Wolff (EVP and Managing Director International).

All these executives will report directly to Skipper.

“I’m honored to lead this company surrounded by such a talented team,” Skipper said in a press release. “Their collective vision and passion for what we do will keep us focused on continued growth for our business and our people.”

Bodenheimer, Skipper Receive Promotions at ESPN

The Walt Disney Company, owners of ESPN, announced today that ESPN President George Bodenheimer will be promoted to ESPN Executive Chairman while Vice President of Content John Skipper will be promoted to President of ESPN.  Both appointments are effective January 1st.

Bodenheimer will relinquish day-to-day operation of ESPN to Skipper. He will continue to chair ESPN’s Board of Directors. Bodenheimer will report directly to Walt Disney President and CEO Robert Iger.  Skipper will report to both Iger and Bodenheimer.

Bodenheimer has spent the last 31 years with the network.  Skipper came on board at ESPN in 1997.

“George has said repeatedly that ESPN’s success has been led by its collaborative corporate culture and a deep bench of executive talent.  While that remains true, it obviously and intentionally downplays his leadership and many significant contributions.”  said Iger in a press release,  “We’ve focused on succession at all levels of Disney for some time now, and consistent with that approach, George initiated conversations last spring that led to today’s announcement.  With George’s continued presence, John’s experience and vision and an executive management team and workforce that are unparalleled in the sports media business, ESPN is extremely well positioned for continued success.”

“I’ve been with ESPN 31 years – my entire professional career.” said Bodenheimer,  “Constant change and consistent growth have marked each of those years, and to me those two themes underscore today’s news.  We’ve demonstrated that change managed well is healthy – for companies and for people.  After 13 years as President, I felt it was a good time to step away from the day to day management of ESPN and let others take the lead. I very much appreciate Bob’s support over the years, and look forward to my future role with ESPN. We are in great shape on many fronts. The people of ESPN have made us the great company we are today.  I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together, and excited about our future.”

“I am humbled and excited to be given the opportunity by Bob and George to lead this terrific company.” said Skipper,   “George set a high bar and an impeccable example, and I will dedicate all of my energy to follow George’s lead in both empowering and supporting my 7,000 ESPN colleagues who do such great work every day.  I look forward to working alongside them in meeting the many challenges that lie ahead.”

Photos Courtesy ESPN