Sean Bratches To Depart ESPN at End of 2015
ESPN Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Sean R.H. Bratches, whose leadership and accomplishments throughout his 27-year career with ESPN were instrumental to the company’s growth, will depart at the end of 2015. He will serve in an advisory capacity to ESPN until that time.
Bratches’ career is defined by innovation and vision, and his contributions helped to fuel tremendous growth in ESPN’s brand and revenue. He has led the affiliate sales groups at both ESPN and The Walt Disney Company, as well as ESPN’s advertising sales, research, consumer marketing, consumer products and special events areas since being named to his current position in 2005.
In recent years Bratches and his team successfully concluded the negotiation of wide-ranging agreements with virtually every distributor, buttressing the industry’s existing business model while extending lines of business deeply into broadband and Internet connectivity. ESPN’s integrated ad sales team sets the pace on Madison Avenue; the research group is in the vanguard of cross-platform media measurement, and the company’s consumer marketing group is consistently award-winning, led by the iconic “This is SportsCenter” campaign.
When he joined the company, there was only one cable network – ESPN. Today, the company has eight domestic channels as well as dozens of additional products and services both in the US and abroad; Bratches has been instrumental to that evolution. He has also always had a keen eye for the trajectory of the industry and how ESPN could create win-win scenarios for growth.
Notable among his many innovative achievements: In 2003, Bratches was the catalyst behind securing extensive distribution of ESPN HD, which is considered the tipping point for the proliferation and adoption of high definition television – both from an industry and consumer perspective. In 2010, Bratches’ team introduced the first live, streaming cable channels online and in mobile devices through WatchESPN. ESPN’s newer, emerging networks and platforms like WatchESPN, ESPN3 and the SEC Network have achieved record-setting growth under his direction.
“Sean is an extremely well-respected and admired industry visionary whose contributions to ESPN’s success cannot be overstated,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “We have all greatly appreciated his energy, integrity and service to ESPN, our employees and our industry.
“He told me recently he wants to take on new challenges, after achieving so much with us — an understandable goal given his vision, business savvy and relentlessly positive impact on people. He will certainly be missed, but through his efforts we are blessed with a wealth of executives well-qualified to keep ESPN moving forward.”
Bratches added: “There is no more innovative, inventive, creative and collaborative company in the media business — perhaps on the planet — than ESPN. ESPN’s future is bright, and my teams are performing at their highest levels. The time just felt right to pursue my next adventure.”
Bratches joined ESPN in 1988 as an account executive in affiliate marketing. Over the years, his rapidly rising influence impacted not only ESPN, but an entire industry through his focus on finding “win-win” outcomes and his genuine concern for others, serving as a tireless mentor to a multitude of colleagues over the years.
He was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2014 for his significant contributions to the industry. He twice won the NCTA’s Vanguard Award, in 2001 for Young Leadership and in 2009 for Marketing. He is a member of CableFax Magazine’s Sales Hall of Fame, and has or currently serves on a variety of industry boards, including CTAM, WICT, The Cable Center, the T. Howard Foundation, and The Ad Council. Very recently, he was instrumental in establishing a T. Howard internship at ESPN in honor of the network’s Stuart Scott, who died in January after a lengthy battle with cancer.