John Skipper to Replace the Departed Mark Shapiro

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NEW YORK ( -- Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN named John Skipper to a new role that encompasses programming responsibilities once held by Mark Shapiro. ESPN was busy this week briefing media buyers of the changes, first reported on Oct. 5.

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Additional duties
In addition to running programming and production at the cross-platform sports brand, Mr. Skipper is also expected to take on additional responsibilities for ABC Sports programming.

As exec VP-content, Mr. Skipper will be running programming and production at the cross-platform sports brand. He replaces former exec VP-programming and production, Mark Shapiro, who left to join Daniel Snyder’s private investment firm Red Zone in August. Mr. Skipper was previously exec VP-advertising sales, new media and consumer products, ESPN Enterprises, a position he has held since August 2004. Among Mr. Skipper’s responsibilities have been ESPN Mobile and ESPN New Media.

Monday Night Football
One of Mr. Skipper’s first tasks will be to renegotiate rights to Nascar, a property ESPN wants to expand. He will also be expected to build the National Football League’s "Monday Night Football" franchise, which transfers from sibling ABC Network to ESPN for the 2006 season and to continue ESPN’s investment in original scripted programming, which began under Mr. Shapiro. Mr. Shapiro acquired for the cable channel Mark Burnett Production’s The Contender, a reality series about boxing. The series first ran on NBC but was not renewed.

Prior to joining in 2000, Mr. Skipper was senior VP-general manager ofESPN The Magazine. Other management shifts include Sean Bratches, who will move from president-Disney and ESPN Networks affiliate sales and marketing to exec VP-sales and marketing. In his new expanded role, Mr. Bratches will oversee affiliate and advertising sales, research, marketing and special events. He will oversee ESPN’s two primary revenue streams, affiliate and advertising sales, supported by marketing, research and client support services. Ed Erhardt, president-ESPN ABC sports customer marketing and sales, continues to oversee advertising sales for all integrated media of ESPN and ABC Sports, and will report to Mr. Bratches. Ben Pyne takes over Mr. Bratches’ former role heading up affiliate sales and marketing.

Chuck Pagano is also being promoted from senior VP-technology, engineering and operations to exec VP-technology.

The entire ESPN executive team, which also includes Christine Driessen, exec VP and chief financial officer, Ed Durso, exec VP-administration, and Russell Wolff, exec VP and managing director-ESPN International, will report to George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.

Lee Ann Daly replacement
ESPN said it will within the next few weeks name a replacement for Lee Ann Daly, exec VP-marketing, who exited soon after Mr. Shapiro but remains a consultant to the company.

ESPN and ABC Sports reorganized its sales and marketing team in January to form a single entity to manage sales across its media assets from TV to the Internet, radio, print, wireless, broadband, video games and other businesses. The ESPN business model is frequently cited as the gold standard inside parent Walt Disney Co. and the executive changes reflect CEO Bob Iger’s desire to have management teams that fully understand new-media possibilities.

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