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George Bodenheimer Stepping Down After More Than Three Decades At ESPN

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 11:01am PDT

george bodenheimer leaving espnAfter 31 years at the Worldwide Leader, and two years after he gave up the reins of its day-to-day oversight, George Bodenheimer is hanging ‘em up. ESPN has confirmed that its Executive Chairman will exit the company this weekend. He was president of the sports juggernaut from 1998-2012, leading it through massive growth and into a leadership role in the national and global sports world. He segued to the Executive Chairman role at ESPN_logo__130813225927-275x206the start of 2012, when John Skipper replaced his as president of the network and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. Since then Bodenheimer has chaired ESPN’s Board of Directors. His exit comes two months after the announced departure of another longtime top Disney TV executive, Anne Sweeney, who is stepping down as Co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television Group in January.

Related: Have ESPN’s Profits Obscured A Mediocre Return On Disney’s Big Acquisitions?

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John Skipper Named ESPN President, George Bodenheimer To Become Chairman

By | Tuesday November 22, 2011 @ 8:11am PST
Nellie Andreeva

George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN and ABC Sports and Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks, will relinquish his day-to-day operating responsibilities on January 1. ESPN’s EVP content John Skipper has been anointed as his successor and will become ESPN President and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks. Bodenheimer will assume the title of Executive Chairman of ESPN. He will continue to chair ESPN’s Board of Directors, report to the Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and help a seamless transition to Skipper, who will assume day-to-day operating responsibilities Jan. 1. Skipper will have a dual report to Iger and Bodenheimer. “We’ve focused on succession at all levels of Disney for some time now, and consistent with that approach, George initiated conversations last spring that led to today’s announcement,” Iger said. During Bodenheimer’s 13 years as president of ESPN, the network has been growing consistently domestically and internationally. “I’ve been with ESPN 31 years – my entire professional career,” he said. “After 13 years as President, I felt it was a good time to step away from the day to day management of ESPN and let others take the lead.”

As EVP, Content, Skipper is responsible for the creation, programming and production of ESPN content across all media platforms. He spearheaded several major rights agreements with the … Read More »

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Pay TV Companies Say ESPN Fumbled With Its $15B NFL Deal

ESPN is already starting to face a major backlash from pay TV providers and some Wall Street analysts to yesterday’s $15B deal extending its rights to Monday Night Football for eight years to 2021. The agreement – which is at least 60% higher than the previous deal — “will push the cost of pay-TV service into the stratosphere, making the product less and less affordable during a time of severe economic stress and high unemployment,” says Matthew Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association, a trade group for small and mid-sized operators. His main complaint is that ESPN requires distributors to offer the channel in the most popular expanded basic package which means “consumers with no interest in sports are required to subsidize the sports fan.” ESPN and ESPN2 represent about 20% of a typical pay TV provider’s wholesale programming costs even though the channels just appeal to 2.5% of the viewers, Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett says in a new report. If you throw in other services, including regional channels, then about $12.15 — more than half of the average monthly wholesale programming payments — go for sports. Moffett figures that pay TV subscribers would have to pay an additional 67 cents a month just to cover ESPN’s additional new football costs. The price would rise to 78 cents if Dish Network drops the Disney-owned sports channel, something that the satellite company’s chairman Charlie Ergen has threatened to do. … Read More »

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UPDATE: ESPN Leaves Open Possibility Of Price-Hike Battles Following $15B ‘Monday Night Football’ Renewal

UPDATE, 9:10 AM: There will be “no NFL surcharge” on cable and satellite companies as a result of the  Monday Night Football renewal deal, ESPN chief George Bodenheimer said in a conference call today. But he didn’t rule out the possibility that ESPN will cite the NFL agreement to seek higher payments for its channels when the company renews its contracts with cable and satellite companies. “The fee that we ask of our affiliates is based on the overall value of the ESPN service,” he said, adding that “this agreement enhances our value to our affiliates.” Bodenheimer hasn’t spoken to operators yet about the new terms but wishfully predicts that “this will be received very well by our distributors.” Research firm SNL Kagan says that pay TV companies typically pay $4.34 per month for every subscriber who receives ESPN and ESPN HD, $2.55 for ESPN 3D, and 58 cents for ESPN 2.

Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang says that the new deal will increase ESPN’s football-related programming costs by about 6% a year — a slower pace than the previous contract. But the company’s pay TV deals grow about 4% a year.

Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says that he’s open to bringing playoff games to ESPN. But he adds that contracts with other broadcasters run through 2013, and he’s now negotiating renewal terms.

PREVIOUS, 6:53 AM: The new agreement will cost ESPN 73% more than its previous NFL deal, The New York Times says. That likely means the Disney-owned sports channel will ask cable and satellite companies to pay more — which could lead to some big fights: ESPN is already the most expensive basic cable service, and operators resent the roughly $4 per subscriber per month they have to shell out for what’s considered must-have programming. ESPN’s new NFL deal includes additional football-related shows and updates including streaming to Verizon phones. Some terms kick off immediately: Today, ESPN’s NFL Live expands to an hour from a half hour. A discussion show based on fan-submitted questions, Audibles, also joins the Thursday night lineup. This weekend, Sunday NFL Countdown will run three hours, up from two. On Tuesday, ESPN2 will introduce a weekly, hour-long show NFL 32, followed on Friday by another weekly hour-long show NFL Kickoff. Here’s the official release:

Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports media history, will remain on ESPN through the 2021 NFL season under a new eight-year agreement between ESPN and the National Football League, it was announced today by ESPN and ABC SportsPresident George Bodenheimer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The broad multiplatform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV andESPN.com, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights.

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