John Skipper

The sudden resignation of John Skipper as President of ESPN took many by surprise. Throughout his tenure as top executive of ESPN, Skipper had the confidence of Disney CEO Bob Iger and had big victories like bringing Monday Night Football to cable, signing the NBA to multiple long-term deals, and bolstering the network’s soccer covering by adding the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.

But Skipper also had some tumultuous times during his tenure with ESPN, including mass layoffs, battles with Bill Simmons and Jemele Hill, riding the turbulent social media waters, canceling Barstool Van Talk after one episode, and occasional battles with the NFL.

However, Disney was high enough on Skipper that he recently signed a new contract that was going to keep him at the helm of the Worldwide Leader into the next decade. Let’s take a look at some of Skipper’s career highlights and lowlights at ESPN:


  • In June, Skipper joins ESPN as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine.


  • ESPN The Magazine is honored with a National Award for design.


  • Skipper adds oversight of to his ESPN The Magazine duties.


  • Skipper is promoted to executive vice president of ESPN.


  • Becomes executive vice president of content.
  • Leads the way for ESPN to gain the rights to Monday Night Football, bringing the franchise to cable after being on ABC since 1970. The deal costs an estimated $1 billion annually.
  • Negotiates a deal with FIFA to air the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, wrestling the rights away from NBCUniversal (which had a handshake agreement with FIFA).


  • Agrees to a 15-year, $2 billion deal with the SEC, which gave ESPN rights to the conference’s home football and basketball games that weren’t on CBS.


  • Helped negotiate a 12-year, $2.7 billion contract for the Pac-12 and ESPN.


  • Spearheads the creation of Grantland, a site led by Bill Simmons.
  • Replaces George Bodenheimer as President of ESPN and Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks.


  • Helps to negotiate a new 20-year contract with the SEC that creates the ESPN-run SEC Network, which would launch in 2014.
  • Squashes ESPN’s involvement with the PBS Frontline documentary League of Denial, claiming that it didn’t meet the network’s standards. The move brings speculation that the NFL influenced ESPN to pull out.
  • Signs a deal with the NFL for Monday Night Football or an estimated $2 billion annually that also gave ESPN its first foray into the league’s postseason with one wild card playoff game a year.





About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.