ESPN Names Skipper President, Succeeding Bodenheimer

Bodenheimer Named Executive Chairman of ESPN

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John Skipper
John Skipper Credit: ESPN

ESPN is making changes at the top, elevating exec VP-content John Skipper to network president and co-chair of Disney Media Networks starting next year, the company announced Tuesday.

He will succeed George Bodenheimer, who has held the reins for 13 years as president and co-chair of Walt Disney Co. Media Networks. Mr. Bodenheimer will become executive chairman of ESPN, continuing to chair ESPN's board of directors and reporting to Walt Disney Co.CEO Bob Iger. But he will relinquish day-to-day operating control on Jan. 1. Mr. Skipper will report to both Mr. Bodenheimer and Mr. Iger, ESPN said.

The shuffle comes as Disney as a whole is eyeing succession down the road, with Mr. Iger having signed a new five-year contract earlier this year.

"George has said repeatedly that ESPN's success has been led by its collaborative corporate culture and a deep bench of executive talent," Mr. Iger said in a statement. "While that remains true, it obviously and intentionally downplays his leadership and many significant contributions. 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."

Tuna Amobi, an analyst at Standard & Poor's, said the move seemed sound. "With Bodenheimer and Skipper both viewed as well-regarded company veterans with key accomplishments in careers spanning several decades at ESPN, news seems like part of a well-orchestrated multi-year succession planning for key executive roles that should foster management continuity, coming just weeks after CEO Robert Iger's transition announcement," he wrote in a note Tuesday.

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