×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jeff Zucker Has ‘No Interest’ In ESPN Job

UPDATED: Jeff Zucker may be staying put at CNN after all.

Despite reports that Zucker, the former head of NBCUniversal and current leader of Time Warner’s CNN, has emerged as a surprise candidate to lead Walt Disney’s ESPN, a spokesperson for CNN tells Variety he isn’t going anywhere.

“Jeff loves his job at CNN and has no interest in running ESPN,” said the spokesperson.

Rumors began circulating this week in media circles that the TV executive who first rose to greater renown by boosting the fortunes of NBC’s “Today” show could be in consideration to replace John Skipper at Disney’s massive sports-media juggernaut. Skipper left ESPN late last year, citing a substance-addiction problem. Disney CEO Robert Iger is said to be leading the search for a new chief at ESPN.

Running CNN is a heady job, and Zucker has boosted performance at the cable-news outlet since his arrived there in 2013. He has pushed the company full-bore into digital and mobile, hiring dozens of new employees to write online columns and newsletters, and host podcasts. And he has lent CNN – often criticized in the past for its down-the-middle plain-vanilla presentation of breaking news – a new, aggressive sheen. CNN has broken big stories on the Trump administration and followed the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The moves have spurred adverse reaction to the network by strong Trump supporters, who cast CNN as an enemy of the president. Indeed, President Trump has on occasion posted snippets of video on Twitter showing CNN getting beaten up in one form or another.

Top Time Warner executives are not necessarily bound to stay with the media conglomerate as it works its way toward a merger with AT&T, according to a person familiar with the matter. The telecommunications giant agreed to buy Time Warner for $85 billion last year, but has been drawn into what could be a protracted court case after the U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the tie-up from taking place. Zucker is believed to in 2016 have signed a new deal to stay at CNN, three years after he started at the news organization. Since that time, several of CNN’s top anchors have renewed contracts as well.

ESPN would present new challenges to any executive who seized its reins. While it dominates rival sports outlets owned by CBS, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal, ESPN has been losing subscribers as more consumers move to digital outlets to gain access to video entertainment. ESPN has also suffered as political remarks made in social media by several of its top personalities and hosts have drawn notice and polarized its audience. But the network is in the midst of moving into the future as well. It is launching a new business: Its “ESPN Plus,” a direct-to-consumer streaming service, is slated to launch in coming months.

Deadline first reported news of Zucker being considered for the ESPN role.

More TV

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content