ESPN Exec Shakeup: Connor Schell Elevated to EVP, Content; Digital/Print EVP John Kosner Leaving
As part of restructuring, SVP of Product/Digital Media Ryan Spoon will report to EVP/CTO Aaron LaBerge and ESPN will merge strategy, development under Justin Connolly
ESPN announced a series of major shakeups atop its Content Creation, Digital, and other departments today. Connor Schell has been named ESPN’s EVP, Content, overseeing all of ESPN’s content creation across ESPN’s television, digital and print platforms. On the digital side, 20-year-ESPN-veteran John Kosner, EVP, Digital and Print Media, will be leaving the company, while Ryan Spoon, SVP, Product & Digital Media, will now report to Aaron LaBerge, EVP and CTO – fully integrating product and technology development under LaBerge. In addition, Burke Magnus, EVP, Programming and Scheduling, will assume direct oversight of ESPN’s relationship with BAMTech.
Connor Schell Named EVP, Content, at ESPN
Effective immediately, Schell adds responsibility for studio and remote production, and digital and print content creation, to his previous responsibilities overseeing ESPN Films, Original Content, Audio and the company’s Talent Office. He will continue to report to Skipper.
Schell’s stewardship of ESPN Films since its inception led to ESPN’s first-ever Academy Award earlier this year, for “O.J.: Made in America.” He is a multiple Emmy and Peabody award winner for his work as Executive Producer and co-creator of the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series. Schell has also served as an executive producer of various projects across The Walt Disney Company in television and film. In his most recent role as Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Original Content, Schell has been responsible for the ESPYS, NBA Countdown and The Jump, and opinion-based studio shows including Pardon the Interruption and First Take. Throughout, he and his team have focused on bringing fresh concepts and voices to ESPN’s many screens.
Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President, Production and Executive Editor; Stephanie Druley, Senior Vice President, Events & Studio Production; and Rob King, Senior Vice President, SportsCenter, News & Information, will now report to Schell and oversee the following areas of content:
Williamson will add oversight of daytime studio programming, original content, the award-winning ESPN Films group, ESPN Audio and the Talent Office to his previous content operations, creative services, multi-media sponsorship integration, management operations, content development and special projects responsibilities, such as ESPN’s successful fantasy and college basketball bracket marathons. He will also focus on working with all content leaders to help bring new concepts to life across platforms.
Druley will continue to be responsible for all of ESPN’s Event Production, and all studio content associated with the NFL, MLB and college sports. Additionally, Druley oversees all content production on the SEC Network and Longhorn Network, and will now add a global footprint with the addition of international and Spanish language production efforts. Rodolfo Martinez, Vice President, ESPN Deportes & International Production, will jointly report to Druley and Tim Bunnell, Senior Vice President, International Programming, Production, Marketing and Ad Sales.
King will continue to oversee SportsCenter and news content (including E:60, Outside the Lines), and will now add responsibility for all global digital and print content, including ESPN.com, The Undefeated, espnW, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN The Magazine, and ESPNFC, merging all of ESPN’s news and information operations under one management team.
Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling, will continue to report to Skipper, overseeing all of the company’s program acquisitions and rights holder relations, content strategy and scheduling. Magnus and his team will now assume direct oversight of ESPN’s relationship with BAMTech.
Skipper said: “Connor has demonstrated keen insight into what resonates with fans, and his instincts allow him to excel at managing the creative process. I have tremendous confidence that he and his new team of talented executives will help us create dynamic content that will break through in a changing environment.”
Schell said: “ESPN has always been at the forefront of the creation of exceptional content for sports fans across every platform, and my colleagues are the most creative, collaborative and dedicated people in the industry. I am very excited about working with this team to build on our legacy of innovation and great storytelling to continue to serve fans in new ways.”
Kosner Leaving, Digital Product Development to Move to Technology Under LaBerge
Kosner will be leaving ESPN after a 20 year run. He has led the company’s march to unsurpassed scale amongst sports brands in digital media, both in the U.S. and around the world. He and his team have built 12 global editions of ESPN.com, in addition to 11 global versions of the ESPN app. All told, ESPN Digital reaches 120 million unique sports fans a month, far and away the industry leader.
Skipper said: “Our tremendous scale in digital media and the smart evolution of our digital products is directly attributable to John’s passion, business savvy and relentless focus on innovation. We are managing dynamic change from a position of strength, and John’s efforts are a big reason why. I am grateful for his many contributions.”
As part of these overall changes, Spoon, Senior Vice President, Product & Digital Media, will now report to EVP/CTO LaBerge, fully integrating product and technology development under LaBerge. Spoon will continue to lead the design, product management, and audience development for all of ESPN’s digital products and will add responsibility for digital media prioritization and strategy.
ESPN Merging Strategy and Development Under Connolly
Skipper also announced a change in the oversight of ESPN’s Strategy and Business Development work.
Justin Connolly, Executive Vice President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, will add strategy and development to his portfolio, which currently includes oversight of all distribution for the Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Connolly and the affiliate team will continue to coordinate these efforts with Disney Strategy head Kevin Mayer.
Diane Morse, ESPN’s Chief Counsel, will assume responsibility for the company’s Business Affairs efforts, reflecting the close coordination that already exists between that group and the Legal Department.
Marie Donoghue, Executive Vice President, Global Business and Content Strategy, will remain with ESPN through the end of the year in an advisory role to Skipper. Most recently, she has been instrumental in the company’s BAMTech investment.
Skipper said: “During the 17 years I have worked with Marie, she has proven to be creative and forward thinking, with unique insight across evolving and traditional media. She is a dedicated, talented, seasoned executive and I look forward to her counsel.”