×

Disney Merges All Media Sales and TV Channel Distribution Under Justin Connolly

Disney promoted longtime ESPN exec Justin Connolly to the new role of president, media distribution, overseeing a single organization that combines all of the company’s media sales and TV channel distribution operations.

Connolly previously served as EVP, affiliate sales and marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Based in New York, he will report to Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment.

In the new role, Connolly will head up global app distribution deals for Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming services – including Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Movies Anywhere. Connolly also will be responsible for deals involving the distribution of film and TV programming via home entertainment, broadcasting platforms, digital platforms, subscription VOD, and pay-TV networks.

Connolly will work with DTCI’s international content sales teams, which now report directly into their respective regional leaders. According to Disney, Connolly will have final approval on all content sales agreements for Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Animation, Disneynature, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, National Geographic, FX Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, WABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.

Connolly will continue to oversee all aspects of North American distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all the services provided by Disney and ESPN media networks including ESPN, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, FXX, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild. He also will manage related internet streaming, HDTV, video-on-demand, interactive TV and retransmission consent agreements for Disney’s eight-owned ABC stations and will continue to have oversight of the ABC Affiliate Relations and Marketing team.

“By combining all of our media, affiliate, content and syndication sales, and distribution efforts into the Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, we continue to transform the ways in which we distribute the great stories and characters created by the Walt Disney Company’s studios and media networks,” Mayer said in a statement. “I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Justin for many years and believe his experience makes him well suited to drive Disney’s media sales and distribution efforts. He is a consummate professional, a fantastic dealmaker, and a great leader.”

A two-decade veteran of ESPN and Disney, Connolly was named head of Disney & ESPN Affiliate Sales and Marketing in 2015 and in June 2017 added oversight of ESPN’s strategy and business development teams. Prior to that, Connolly served as ESPN’s SVP, college networks and was SVP, national accounts for Disney & ESPN Media Networks.

Connolly originally joined ESPN in 2003 and served in various capacities including director of ESPN strategy and operations and VP, distribution strategy. Prior to joining ESPN, he  worked in Disney’s corporate finance group in Burbank, Calif. The Boston native holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

More TV

  • Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium

    Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium Series 'Herzogpark'

    German media group Leonine has taken international distribution rights to the six-part premium series “Herzogpark,” following a deal with its producers Letterbox Filmproduktion (“Bad Banks”). The rights for German-speaking territories are held by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The dramedy centers on four women from Munich’s upscale Herzogpark district, for whom keeping secrets has become a life’s [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Italy's Women Filmmakers Set to Make Waves

    The Berlinale in recent years has been a prime launching pad for Italian films directed by women, which though fewer in number to their male counterparts, make up a considerable portion of the country’s representation on the festival circuit — Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) at Cannes, Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico”) at Venice, and Berlin regular [...]

  • Love Me Scandinavian Cinema

    Scandinavia Ups Its Game With So Many Markets for Its Fare

    When the Nordic entertainment group, one of Scandinavia’s largest media groups, announced last month during the Goteborg Film Festival that it was pulling out of non-scripted content to focus on scripted drama, and film production and distribution, it underscored two market trends in the Nordics: Subscription-based services, whether local or global, are driving the region’s [...]

  • Louis Hofmann in Prélude

    Berlin: Louis Hofmann Cast in Damian John Harper's 'Fresh' (EXCLUSIVE)

    German star Louis Hofmann is set to topline Damian John Harper’s upcoming drama “Fresh,” a German-language adaptation of Scottish writer Mark McNay’s novel of the same name. Hofmann plays a young man who must emancipate himself from his tyrannical older brother. Unlike the book, which is set in the outskirts of Glasgow, the film’s story [...]

  • Steve Stark

    Steve Stark Named President of Newly Formed MGM/UA Television

    The newly formed MGM/UA Television label has found a president in Steve Stark, who previously served as MGM’s president of scripted television production and development. MGM Worldwide Television Group chairman Mark Burnett made the announcement late Friday, adding that Stark has extended his contract with the studio as part of his new role. “We are [...]

  • Bad Education

    TV News Roundup: HBO Sets Premiere Date for Hugh Jackman's 'Bad Education' (Watch)

    In today’s TV News roundup, HBO Films set the premiere date for “Bad Education” starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney and “Volcano Live! with Nik Wallenda” tapes Chris Harrison and Sage Steele as hosts. CASTING “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison will host “Volcano Live! with Nik Wallenda” alongside co-host Sage Steele of ESPN, ABC announced. [...]

  • Randall Park Ed Helms

    Randall Park, Ed Helms to Host Hybrid Alternative-Scripted Series 'True Story' for NBC

    Ed Helms and Randall Park are attached to co-host a hybrid scripted-alternative series titled “True Story” at NBC. The hour-long show has received a six-episode order. It is based on the Australian series “True Story with Hamish & Andy.” In the series, everyday Americans sit down with Helms and Park to share their most extraordinary [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content