In early November, Awful Announcing learned that ESPN executive vice president of content Connor Schell was planning to leave the company and launch his own venture. According to sources, the longtime executive wanted to be more directly involved in creating content, some of which would ideally be outside of sports.
Now, Schell’s new venture is coming into focus. As reported by several outlets, including Deadline and TheWrap, he is teaming up with Chernin Entertainment to launch a studio for non-scripted programming. Schell will be the CEO for the studio, which has not yet been named, and oversee the development of “high-end, non-fiction projects” with Chernin’s Jenno Topping.
In his executive role at ESPN, Schell was a creative force behind the 30 for 30 documentary series, in addition to acclaimed projects such as The Last Dance and Academy Award-winning docuseries O.J.: Made in America. He was also involved with anthology series for the network including College Football 150 and Basketball: A Love Story.
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Following John Skipper’s departure from ESPN, Schell was among those considered as candidates to take over as network president.
“Connor is by far one of the most prolific and talented producers of nonfiction storytelling,” said Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO of Chernin Entertainment, “and brings us a track record and instinct for creating culturally resonant and commercially viable content at a time when demand is high and supply is low. The opportunities to make a difference and reach audiences with important stories are endless.”
The success of longform documentaries and docuseries across networks and streaming platforms has validated Schell’s support of such projects and he’s now in a position to produce that kind of content for a variety of outlets, including broadcast and cable networks and streaming platforms. More streaming options are becoming available as more networks and media conglomerates launch their own products and become potential customers for ventures like Schell’s.