Amid company-wide layoffs, ESPN announced internally with a series of announcements a broader overhauling of its org chart. The most notable names involved in that shakeup seem to be executives Norby Williamson and Stephanie Druley.
According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, Williamson will replace Druley as the new head of NFL programming while also overseeing daily operations on MLB, NHL, golf, tennis, combat sports, and investigative journalism.
Druley, meanwhile, was named the company’s new head of content operations, absorbing many of the responsibilities left by Tina Thornton, who is being promoted to executive vice president of creative studio and marketing. Druley was promoted to Exec VP/Event & Studio Production in 2018 where her role was described as working ” alongside”, Williamson. Her role at that time included “being responsible for the entirety of ESPN’s remote production portfolio and associated studio shows for college sports, the National Football League, and Major League Baseball”. In the wake of the high-profile Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor departures, the NBA was moved to the purview of Dave Roberts and away from Druley.
Why are these changes happening now?
Three months ago, ESPN made a subtle change where Druley, Roberts, and Norby Williamson began reporting to ESPN President of Content Burke Magnus instead of ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. Part of that same shakeup saw the return of Rosalyn Durant (an ESPN veteran who had moved onto Disney) becoming ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and acquisitions where Durant would oversee all media rights acquisitions.
The changes in Williamson’s and Druley’s roles were announced in a memo sent out by Magnus while Durant sent out a similar memo announcing changes in her organization that included Nick Dawson’s promotion to Senior Vice President of College Sports Programming and Acquisitions and John Lasker being promoted to Senior Vice President of ESPN+.
Some other notable developments announced today in the two memos include:
- Twenty-year marketing veteran Laura Gentile departing the company to start her own business. Gentile was the EVP of ESPN Marketing.
- Dave Roberts being announced as the executive overseeing The Pat McAfee Show.
ESPN, like just about every company with this much influence and size, routinely elevate, demote, and shift around executives in hopes of finding a more optimized org structure. Sometimes it’s business as usual, often times it tells a story. Reading between the lines, it seems clear Williamson’s stock has continued to rise under the tenure of Pitaro, becoming the head of NFL programming a few years ahead of the network’s first Super Bowl, a very notable event for the network. ESPN now heads into the 2023 season with a new Monday Night Football Director, Producer, and now top executive.