After an abrupt departure, former ESPN president John Skipper is trying to beat his former employer at its own game with DAZN (pronounced “da zone”), a subscription streaming service with an odd name and big plans to disrupt sports broadcasting.
The former ESPN chief goes public in an interview about the real reason behind his abrupt departure from Disney after 27 years, a confession to Bob Iger and his hope to work in sports media again.
John Skipper cited “substance addiction” as the reason for abruptly stepping down in December, but both his actions before the announcement and Disney’s incentives to push him out suggest a different narrative, writes the author of an oral history of ESPN.
John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks on Monday, citing his substance abuse problem. George Bodenheimer, ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011 and its executive chairman until May 2014, will take over as the acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days to help Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger find Skipper’s replacement, ESPN said.
John Skipper has agreed to a contract extension with Disney to remain president of ESPN through 2021, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Skipper has been ESPN’s president since New Year’s Day of 2012, and been with the company since 1997 when he started at ESPN the Magazine as VP-GM. In 2015, Skipper signed a contract extension through 2018.
ESPN President John Skipper said in a staff memo Friday that the network “is about sports” and is “not a political organization.” The memo followed anchor Jemele Hill’s tweets denouncing President Trump as a white supremacist and capped off a rough week for ESPN. “In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” Skipper wrote.
ESPN President John Skipper said pay TV companies should offer smaller packages of channels to consumers who don’t already get cable or satellite services. Skipper said there are 6 million to 8 million young people in the U.S. looking for television programming and that serving the audience would benefit the industry.
ESPN President John Skipper said Tuesday he isn’t too worried about proposed legislation from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would allow consumers to pick what channels they want instead of buying a big package of networks. “We don’t think the bill has any momentum,” Skipper said to reporters after ESPN made a presentation to advertisers in New York City. His view that McCain’s legislation is a long shot is shared by many television industry insiders.
George Bodenheimer will step down as president of ESPN and ABC Sports and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, effective Jan. 1, and will become executive chairman of ESPN. John Skipper, executive vice president-content at ESPN, will succeed him.
ESPN’s top content executive said the company continues to negotiate with the NFL on an extension of its rights deal, but indicated any agreement will have to include multiplatform streaming rights. Distribution will be on “a wider, deeper basis,” said John Skipper.