John Skipper
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United States


John Skipper has worked diligently to differentiate and elevate ESPN from its competitors. He has secured rights with a plethora of organizations and events through 2021 and beyond, including Major League Baseball, College Football Playoffs, NBA, ACC, Big 12, US Open tennis, WNBA, American Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, as well as the Rose, Sugar, and Orange Bowls.

He led ESPN to its 20-year agreement to create and operate the ESPN SEC Network and digital platforms, and also managed to strike multi-year agreements with major distributors and Sony’s multi-stream service PlayStation Vue.

Skipper is at the helm of the network during a tough period in its existence: After seeing its subscriber base peak just five years ago at 100 million households, the network is down to 88 million in 2017. The loss of a significant chunk of its subscriber base complicates affording the estimated $7 billion in TV sports rights on ESPN’s tab every year, but Skipper steers his division with clear-eyed resolve. “Let me be up front at this upfront — ESPN is responding to change, and we are making changes from the most dramatic position of strength,” he told the crowd at the network’s presentation in May.

While Skipper is determined to maintain the traditional pay-TV model, he’s also well aware there’s a generation of cord-cutting streamers that ESPN will need to reach via alternate means of distribution, so he’s committed to broadening ESPN’s mobile and digital efforts to deliver live sporting events across multiple platforms.


  • Disney Media Distribution (DEFUNCT)
  • ESPN


  • University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (NC, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

John Skipper, Dan Le Batard's Meadowlark Media Hires Deirdre Fenton as Head of Unscripted (EXCLUSIVE)

John Skipper, Dan Le Batard's Meadowlark Media Hires Deirdre Fenton as Head of Unscripted (EXCLUSIVE)

John Skipper and Dan Le Batard’s Meadowlark Media has brought on Deirdre Fenton as executive director of unscripted, Variety has learned exclusively.In her new role, Fenton will oversee the company's unscripted programming. She will report to Skipper, who is the CEO of Meadowlark. One of Fenton's early focuses will be leading Meadowlark's relationship with Apple, with Meadowlark recently signing a first-look deal with the streamer.“Deirdre has a fabulous eye for what makes a good story and the industry experience to bring it...


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