In a shock to the sports and TV world, longtime ESPN chief John Skipper is resigning as a result of what he described as a long-term problem with substance addiction.George Bodenheimer, Skipper's predecessor as ESPN boss, will serve as acting chairman while Disney searches for a replacement."I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem," Skipper said in a...
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.