James Pitaro
Joe Faraoni/ESPN
United States
2020

The Walt Disney Company

James
Pitaro

Chairman, ESPN & Sports Content

Like many, Pitaro scrambled to contend with the pandemic, which scuttled ESPN’s live sports operations. While NBA, NFL and MLB telecasts sat on the sidelines, he got creative and filled the bill with other interesting pastimes, including Korean baseball and WWE repeats. He was also charged with transitioning his business from its roots in linear pay TV to fast-growing ESPN Plus. But even as the company moved forward on other fronts, like reworking its national radio lineup and football programming, it did not escape wide layoffs at Disney, which eliminated 500 positions (300 employees and 200 unfilled posts) at ESPN in late 2020. Known for requiring talent to remain politically impartial, Pitaro did offer anchors and correspondents a wider berth of opinions as social issues in the U.S. loomed large throughout the year.

Career

  • ESPN
  • Yahoo!

Education

  • Cornell University (NY, USA)
  • Saint John's University (NY, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2018 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2019 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

Pedro Gomez, Longtime Baseball Writer and ESPN 'SportsCenter' Reporter, Dies at 58

Pedro Gomez, Longtime Baseball Writer and ESPN 'SportsCenter' Reporter, Dies at 58

Pedro Gomez, the longtime baseball writer and reporter for ESPN's "SportsCenter," died Sunday at his home in Phoenix, ESPN said. He was 58.“We are shocked and saddened to learn that our friend and colleague Pedro Gomez has passed away,” said James Pitaro, Disney's chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, said in a tweet. “Pedro was an elite journalist at the highest level and his professional accomplishments are universally recognized. More importantly, Pedro was a kind, dear friend to us all. Our...

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