×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • PHINEAS AND FERB - "The Fast

    'Phineas and Ferb' Disney Plus Movie Details, Including Title, Revealed at D23

    Five years after summer ended for “Phineas and Ferb,” the show returns with a new movie on Disney Plus in 2020, new details of which were revealed on Friday at the D23 fan convention. In “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” currently in production for the new streaming service, stepbrothers Phineas and [...]

  • Brews Brothers Netflix

    Netflix Orders Comedy Series 'Brews Brothers' from Schaffer Brothers

    Netflix has put in an eight-episode order of “Brews Brothers,” a comedy series from creative sibling team Greg Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer. The show follows estranged brothers Wilhelm and Adam Rodman, who wind up running a brewery together. According to Netflix, each is a “beer genius … but they couldn’t be more different in their [...]

  • Sinclair

    Sinclair Closes Purchase of Fox Regional Sports Networks From Disney

    Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Walt Disney Company have closed their $9.6 billion deal for Sinclair to buy 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks and Fox College Sports. The deal was announced in May after Disney bought the networks as part of its acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox. The portfolio, which excludes the YES Network, is described [...]

  • Michael Shannon

    Michael Shannon to Play Jerry Buss in HBO's 'Untitled Showtime Lakers Project' Pilot

    Michael Shannon has been cast to play self-made millionaire and former Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss in HBO’s “The Untitled Showtime Lakers Project” pilot, based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” The series, which chronicles the professional and personal lives of the [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Netflix Eyes More Italian Productions

    Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it’s steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum. The streaming giant recently announced a €200 million ($222 million) investment in Italian original productions over the next three years. Variety spoke [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content