James Pitaro
Joe Faraoni/ESPN
United States
2021

The Walt Disney Company

James
Pitaro

Chairman, ESPN & Sports Content

Pitaro has had an eventful tenure at the top of ESPN, especially notable during the past 12 months. He was intimately involved in Disney’s high-stakes negotiations with the NFL to shore up its football rights package — at the enormous sum of $2.7 billion a year. He was also squarely in the center of public controversies involving ESPN on-air personalities and the sports giant’s coverage of sports, politics and pop culture. ESPN saw high-profile talent such as Maria Taylor and Dan Le Batard depart in recent months amid social media-fueled conflicts. Since he took the helm in 2018, Pitaro has presided over a huge shakeup of ESPN management. In late 2020, one last pillar of the past left the field with the departure of longtime programming executive Connor Schell (“30 for 30”).

Career

  • ESPN
  • Yahoo

Education

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

Variety Honors

  • 2018 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2019 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2020 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

Disney Names James Pitaro to Head ESPN

Disney Names James Pitaro to Head ESPN

Walt Disney named James Pitaro, who had been leading its consumer-products and digital divisions, to oversee ESPN, placing an executive with years of experience in digital media atop one of its most lucrative and best-known assets. He will also serve as co-chair of the company's TV operations.Pitaro will immediately find himself navigating a wide array of challenges aimed at keeping the sports-media juggernaut known as "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" in that exact position. While ESPN remains a top performer...

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