ESPN president John Skipper has overseen a tumultuous year for the network. He’s made several high-profile personnel changes, with Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd among the high-profile names leaving.
All of that work has been done underneath pressure from Disney to reduce costs in the face of losing millions of subscribers who have cut the cord from cable and satellite. The money Skipper has been asked to slice from the ESPN budget is significant, reportedly $100 million from next year’s expenses and $250 million from the overall budget by 2017.
But the corporate overlords at Disney are apparently happy with the job Skipper has done thus far. Either that, or they know he’ll need the proper time to make these changes with the security of his contract situation not being a question. ESPN oracle Jim Miller tweeted out the news Wednesday morning that Skipper has indeed been rewarded with those assurances.
— James Andrew Miller (@JimMiller) September 16, 2015
Skipper has held his current position as ESPN’s president since Jan. 1, 2012. He’s been with the network since 1997, first serving as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. In 2000, Skipper was given the same title with ESPN.com. Three years later, he was promoted to executive vice president.
To say Skipper has overseen a vast change in what the network offers in terms of content on television and online would be both an obvious and major understatement.
How viewers consume their media has changed significantly, and ESPN has had to adapt with the times. Fans don’t just get scores and highlights from SportsCenter, nor do they even always watch live events on their televisions anymore. ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app have essentially become new channels to provide consumers with the wide variety of programming available. Obviously, ESPN.com has had to change with the times as well, not just in terms of content, but also distribution with mobile devices becoming a significant part of the average person’s media diet.
ESPN takes a lot of criticism from fans and media — obviously, some of it from this very website — and much of it is valid. But the network and company has undergone a sea change during Skipper’s time with the network, even during his tenure as president, and he’s kept this enormous ship steered in the right direction. The bosses at Disney clearly feel the same way and believe Skipper is the man to oversee the numerous changes ESPN will have to undergo in the years to come.