Two years after landing at DAZN, Jamie Horowitz is on the move.
WWE announced on Monday morning that the former ESPN and Fox Sports executive was stepping into the ring as the company’s executive vice president for development and digital. According to Deadline, he’s taking the position effective immediately.
Horowitz will oversee WWE’s original content, which includes scripted and unscripted programs for digital and social media. Such content, such as documentaries, figures to be even more important with WWE Network moving over to Peacock and needing additional programming to build around its premium events and archived matches.
Also under Horowitz’s watch will be WWE Studios, which produces content for other platforms. For instance, the upcoming Vince McMahon docuseries for Netflix directed by Chris Smith (Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened) with Bill Simmons attached as an executive producer.
WWE hires former DAZN and Fox Sports exec Jamie Horowitz as EVP/Development and Digital, as well as Samira Shah as general counsel and Matt Drew as SVP/International.
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBG) June 1, 2021
At DAZN, Horowitz was an executive vice president in charge of global content. During his two years there, he oversaw original programming, editorial strategy, and social media content. Among the programs produced under his watch were boxing docuseries One Night, in partnership with Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions, and 40 Days, produced with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted.
While at Fox Sports, Horowitz made “pivot” a negative buzzword in sports media by overseeing Fox Sports Digital’s change in emphasis to videos over written content and promoting the network’s TV personalities over reporters and analysts. That initiative resulted in mass layoffs and ultimately cost FoxSports.com substantial losses in online traffic and revenue. Fox eventually dismissed Horowitz amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Workplace culture has been a longtime talking point within #WWE, especially the last two years with the cuts around the time of the pandemic. The hiring of Horowitz, whose success is marred by accusations of harassment and controversial content strategies, will be scrutinized.
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) June 1, 2021
Horowitz might be best known for his work at ESPN, where he developed the “embrace debate” strategy that spawned shows such as First Take and SportsNation. (First Take co-host Skip Bayless eventually joined Horowitz at Fox Sports to create a rival debate program, Undisputed.) He left ESPN to oversee NBC’s Today show, but lasted less than three months in that position after his aggressive attempts to make over the program were widely opposed.
Hiring Horowitz is the latest move in McMahon’s initiative to make WWE over into more of a media and content company. Another former ESPN executive, Connor Schell, was recently named to WWE’s board of directors, according to Sports Business Journal.
Attempting to reach wider audiences surely also motivated the decision to add broadcaster Adnan Virk to the Monday night Raw telecast as play-by-play announcer, though Virk recently left that position.