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Excitement Mounts As Disney Awaits The Next ESPN President’s Unveiling

Disney is about to change the head of its administration, and in the next two weeks, the fate of whoever will replace John Skipper will be decided as the new president for ESPN.

An affiliate member for Disney, Apple, and Netflix, Eric Jackson, explained that the next two weeks would be a beehive of administrative deliberations within the corridors of Disney. He noted that the deliberations would also be done because of an unexpected bid for Sky’s 62% shares by Comcast which is scheduled for Tuesday.


Major Concerns

Some of the decisions and core issues that will be deliberated upon are examined below by Jackson.

The former chairman of ESPN John Skipper.

March 16 will make it three months since John Skipper, former ESPN Chairman, took a bow from the seat on 18 December, 2017. After his departure, George Bodenheimer was appointed as an interim president to fill the gap left behind by Skipper. It was also stated by Disney that a timer has been set for 90 days after which the next CEO for ESPN will be announced. Now only two weeks remain to know who is the new leader.

Excitement is mounting high, and Jackson believed the reason is the possible emergence of Disney’s overall leader who may succeed Bob Iger come 2021. The role of president for ESPN is regarded as a very brave position that only an extraordinary person can take up, and such a person who wins the trophy will be celebrated.

Part of the works the new president for ESPN will do is to transform every sphere of the media conglomerate top to bottom which includes the traditional uninterrupted system and the system of continuous links to the consumers, also called ‘DTC.’ The individual may also possibly be actively involved in the unveiling of ESPN+ which is expected to be launched by April, and it will consist of OTT network and Hulu, all under Disney company. The anticipated leader for  ESPN will get the opportunity to bring back ESPN’s initial glory as far as financial returns are concerned.

Curiosity is on a high rise about the new ESPN head.

The Contenders

Jackson thinks such a person must be substantially dexterous in the evolved technologically advanced system of OTT, must be a sports’ fan, and a well-known associate of Iger who would have had a good working relationship with the boss. This means that Iger would likely be allowed to recommend his own successor, based on trust and the candidate’s pedigree, says Jackson.

Jackson suggested three possible executives in the organization who seem to fit well into these qualifications;

  1. The Chief Strategist at Disney, Kevin Mayer.
  2. The Chief Executive in-charge of Consumer Communications and Products, Jimmy Pitaro
  3. Bob Chapek, who controls Disney Parks.

However, some reservations and factors need to be considered on each of them, Jackson noted. For Chapek, he took up the role as Disney parks’ head, and he has been performing excellently well. Disney parks are qualified as the most dependable mechanism within the corridors of Disney. The parks will overthrow other media companies in the coming years due to its effective revenue generating characteristics and for being the biggest source of income for Disney. During the week at the meeting tagged ‘Media And Telecommunication Summit,’ organized by Morgan Stanley, Iger expressed his displeasure at Wall Street’s indifference to the activities and growth of the parks, which is not the same attitude towards ESPN division. Meanwhile, Jackson said he’d made some findings concerning Chapek’s chances of becoming the president of ESPN, and three people told him that it might not work out because Chapek himself seems very content with his job at the parks and might not even be interested.

Then Jimmy and Kevin are left in the equation. At a media conference held in California some weeks ago, Kevin was among the speakers, and he also had a chat with Peter Kafka for 25 minutes. He sounded eloquent, smart and knew the best strategies for Disney M&A. He exhumed the traits of a leader who can take charge of ESPN effectively. Part of his projects was the taking over of BAM Tech, which will be crucial to the growth of ESPN.

However, Jackson identified the major demerit in selecting Kevin, and that is the fact that he’s never been placed in an operational position at the company since about 26 years ago. His knowledge and specialty are limited to a strategic field alone, but Disney would prefer an adept operator as its president.


Final Call?

So where does this leave Jimmy? According to Jackson, Jimmy has controlled the Consumer Communications and Products for some years now. Part of his CV before joining Disney were his posts as the Chief Officer for Media at Yahoo, and before working with Yahoo, he was a part of the management board for the project called ‘Launch,’ a project by a Dave Goldberg-owned firm which was bought over by Yahoo several years ago. Jimmy’s tenure at Yahoo earned him several connections with big players such as Sheryl Sandberg, an executive at Silicon Valley and who also happens to be his close ally since his days at Launch. Jackson suspected that she could scribble his name on a sheet of paper and hand it over to Iger for the nomination.

Also, Jackson recalled that Jimmy had one time indicated interest in becoming ESPN president one day. However, Iger may select prospects from his internal circle like Connor Schell or Burke Magnus.

Jackson still finds it hard to wrap his head around what could be Iger’s next line of actions after his retirement come 2021. It’s not even sure if he might sell off the entertainment behemoth to Apple, which has been enjoying a closely knitted business affiliation with Disney since the Pixar distribution contract was signed by Steve Jobs with Walt Disney Co.

Whichever way it goes, March 16 is at the door.

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