“We have better product than they do,” said ESPN President John Skipper today at the NCTA’s Cable Show convention in downtown LA about challenges to cable from Netflix, Amazon and Yahoo. “Shame on us if we don’t protect our turf,” he added. “We’re allowing them to set the tone of the conversation — we should set the tone of the conversation.” Proclaiming that “the single greatest buttress in the pay-TV package is ESPN,” Skipper also acknowledged the shifting landscape of cable and the real threats from new platforms. “We’re not all going to grow and make more money unless we sell the value” of pay-TV, he said. “There was not this discussion when it was a growing pie. We’ve got to find a way to grow the pie.”
The sports TV boss and Cable Show co-chair was joined today on the panel in the cavernous West Hall of the LA Convention Center by Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, Turner Broadcasting Systems CEO John Martin and Suddenlink CEO Jerald Kent. “You’re dealing with a Netflix and Amazon that are not sharing their viewership,” said Dubuc, picking up on Skipper’s comments. Said Skipper: “Competition is not a bad thing but we need to feel a way to innovate. And find a way to let people get content on all their devices.” Read More »
ESPN President John Skipper told a report posted today that a promotional trailer for PBS‘ Frontline documentary investigating NFL concussions was the “catalyst” for ESPN‘s pulling out of its partnership with the project. The League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis trailer was screened at an August 6 media panel and unveiled without Skipper’s or ESPN’s approval. Skipper complained the video was “sensational” and made him “quite unhappy”. He didn’t like the tagline, “Get ready to change the way you see the game”, or the trailer’s final quote from a neuropathologist on the extent of brain injuries in the NFL, “I’m really wondering if every single football player doesn’t have this.” Media watchers say pressure from the NFL led to ESPN’s sudden withdrawal and now Skipper admits he was embarrassed by the Frontline docu. Here’s the trailer:
Freelancer Cari Lynn is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
ESPN execs must grow tired of defending the value of pay TV’s most expensive basic channel. But President John Skipper did so again today at a conference sponsored by All Things D. The estimated $4.69 monthly fee that cable and satellite companies pay for each customer who receives ESPN is justified because “we’re bringing great value and getting paid for that value.” And he says it makes sense to charge people for a bundle of channels that includes ESPN instead of paying for just the ones that they watch. ”If people pay a la carte they will end up paying as much or more” than they do now. Skipper says that ESPN is prepared for the growth of digital platforms. Since 2005 it decided that when it bought broadcast rights for games ”we would acquire all rights for content on any devices.” But the sports channel doesn’t want to use digital platforms to take viewers away from cable and satellite. Distributors “pay us money for that. We’re not going to undermine (that) by giving it away to anyone else.” Still, the digital rights could give ESPN an edge over potentially muscular new competitors such as NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports Network. Over the next year ESPN will face “more competition than ever and new competition,” Skipper says. “Our advantage is we’re in all these platforms” with mobile alerts and opportunities to play fantasy games. He adds that the company sees … Read More »
New ESPN president John Skipper has unveiled the new executive structure at the sports network after taking the helm January 1. Among the moves, EVP Programming and Acquisitions John Wildhack and EVP Production Norby Williamson are switching titles; Digital Print Media SVP and GM John Kosner has been promoted to EVP of the unit, overseeing the company’s digital strategy and products; and Marie Donoghue, who was SVP Business Affairs and Business Development, will take on the new role of SVP Global Strategy, Business Development and Business Affairs. All report to Skipper. Sean Bratches (EVP Sales and Marketing), Christine Driessen (EVP and CFO), Ed Durso (EVP Administration), Chuck Pagano (EVP Technology and CTO), Paul Richardson (SVP Human Resources), John Walsh (EVP and Executive Editor) and Russell Wolff (EVP and Managing Director International) remain in their same posts under the new structure. Skipper, officially ESPN President and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, reports to Disney boss Bob Iger and ESPN chairman George Bodenheimer.
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 »