Meet The New ESPN Guy: John Skipper

See that guy right there? That's John Skipper, a guy of whom it is very difficult to find a picture online. (A helpful reader sent us this larger one; Mark Shapiro, on the other hand, was smiling and waving everywhere we looked.) Skipper is also the new guy in charge at ESPN. As first reported by Paid Content (which is having a very busy day), Skipper has been promoted to executive vice president of content at ESPN. This is a particularly interesting move because Skipper is previously the editorial and business operation head for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine; in other words, he's not a TV guy.

Skipper's underlings — his "Little Buddies," if you will — include John Wildhack, John Walsh (who's taking time out from his hunt for fugitives and justice) and Chuck Pagano, who was promoted to executive vice president, technology. That would make him the guy who, you know, makes sure the freaking fantasy game works.

We'll be checking back in on this, regularly, but before we start causing trouble, congratulations to the whole crew, and the Skipper too.

Paid Content

(Full Memo After The Jump)

From: Bodenheimer, George
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 8:10 AM
Subject: Change and Opportunity

Change always presents opportunities and that is certainly true now. While changes within our leadership ranks compel us to fill open positions, I believe there is a bigger opportunity to realign our company wide structure and fuel our continued growth. Doing so will not only recognize where the company is today, but most significantly where we are going in the years ahead. To achieve this, we are announcing today the reorganization of the company into six specific areas: content, technology, sales and marketing, international, finance and administration.

Specifically, I am very pleased to announce our new organizational structure as follows:

John Skipper has been promoted to the newly created post of Executive Vice President, Content. In this role John will oversee content in all its forms for all ESPN and ABC Sports television, radio, Internet, publishing, wireless, broadband and Enterprises operations. This is a powerful statement for our company aggregating in one division responsibility for all content. It is an engine no other sports media entity can match and will most certainly strengthen our commitment to serving sports fans. John will report to me.

Reporting to John will be: Norby Williamson, who has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Studio and Remote Production overseeing all ESPN and ABC Sports game, event and studio production work for our domestic television and radio networks. Salil Mehta, Executive Vice President, ESPN Enterprises who will continue to oversee ESPN Consumer Products, ESPN New Media and Mobile ESPN. John Wildhack, who has been promoted to one of two top programming positions in our company as Senior Vice President, Programming Acquisitions and Strategy overseeing a ll rights negotiations and league relationships for all ESPN domestic television networks and ABC Sports. David Berson, who has been promoted to the other top programming post as Senior Vice President, Program Planning and Development for ESPN and ABC Sports. John Walsh, who will continue in his current role of Executive Vice President and Executive Editor for all media outlets. Ron Semiao, who will continue in his current role of Senior Vice President, EOE. Rick Barry, who will continue in his current role of Senior Vice President Programming and Production Administration. Marie Donoghue, who will continue in her current role of Vice President, Business Affairs and Development.

Chuck Pagano has been promoted to the newly created post of Executive Vice President, Technology. In this role reporting to me, Chuck will have responsibility for all technology sectors within the ESPN family. This move is calculated to ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of technological utilization and development and that we do so as efficiently as possible. We see every day how technology is shaping and re-shaping our business practices and opportunities. Creating this unit will best position us to take full advantage of these changes. Reporting to Chuck will be: Paul Cushing, who has been promoted to Senior Vice President, MIT, overseeing all our corporate systems infrastructure, software project management and telecommunications. Aaron LaBerge, who will assume the newly created position of Vice President, Technology responsible for all technology operations in support of the Enterprises unit businesses as well as technology research and development. A newly created position of Vice President, Engineering, which will be responsible for all transmission, systems and distribution engineering needs.

Sean Bratches has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing. In this role Sean will oversee all affiliate and advertising sales, research, marketing and special events. This b rings into one
division our two primary revenue streams supported by marketing, research and client support services. It will allow all of our marketing and synergy capabilities to flourish and efficiently support the total marketing needs of the company. Sean will continue to report to both me and Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and President, Disney-ABC Television Group, for purposes of our affiliate sales efforts and directly to me for all other areas. Reporting to Sean will be: Ed Erhardt, who will continue as President of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales overseeing all advertising sales and related efforts for all our integrated media for ESPN and ABC Sports. Ben Pyne, who has been promoted to President, Disney and ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing, overseeing the affiliate sales and marketing related efforts associated with all Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Artie Bulgrin, who will continue as Senior Vice President, Research & Sales Development overseeing all research and sales support efforts for ESPN and ABC Sports. A new Senior Vice President, Marketing, overseeing all brand management and related marketing activities for ESPN and ABC Sports. The search for a replacement for Lee Ann Daly in this role continues and we expect to shortly name a successor. Peter Rosenberger, who will continue in his role as Vice President, Special Events Marketing for ESPN.


Russell Wolff will continue in his current role of Executive Vice President and Managing Director ESPN International reporting to me. Russell and his team with support from Christine Driessen and International Finance have led growing initiatives around the world with increasing financial success. We need to continue to support these efforts and as we forge ahead, Russell will continue to serve as the executive ultimately responsible for all our international business initiatives cutting across our television, radio, publishing, wireless, broadband and Enterprises operations.


C hristine Driessen will continue in her current role of Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer reporting to me. Christine and her team do tremendous work overseeing all of the company's financial
operations including financial and program planning, strategic development, office of the controller and tax. All these functions provide critical support and guidance. Christine will also continue with shared supervisory authority over those MIT functions associated with financial systems and controls.


Ed Durso will continue in his current role of Executive Vice President, Administration reporting to me. Ed's team does an outstanding job over a wide range of responsibilities including legal and government affairs, communications, facilities, human resources and security. These are all
vitally important functions in support of our growth and our employees, our most valuable asset of all.


I do want to note that this memo is limited in its scope only to individuals reporting directly to me and in turn to their direct reports where there have been significant changes. Others will be affected throughout ESPN and ABC Sports and will be called upon to make important contributions. Details as to those changes will be provided by department heads in the coming weeks.


The individuals identified in this memo and the thousands who stand with them in service to ESPN and ABC Sports represent among the finest in our industry and the changes announced today make it very clear that we are not engaged in business as usual. To the contrary, we are ushering in a new era of growth for the company drawing its strength from the truly remarkable people who work here and the collection of assets we have built. We are poised now to manage them as never before and I am totally confident that our continued success will follow.

Please join me in offering congratulations and best wishes to all those promoted or assuming new roles, including those who will be identified in departmen tal announcements which follow. I ask for your support of them all and thank you for your continuing efforts on behalf of ESPN and ABC Sports.