The Walt Disney Company has named James Pitaro as the new president of sports broadcasting giant ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks.
Reporting directly to Disney chairman and chief executive Robert Iger, the 48-year-old will assume his new role immediately, taking over from the long-serving John Skipper, who resigned in December after six years in charge, citing a battle with substance addiction. George Bodheimer, who took over as acting chairman after Skipper’s departure, will stay on until the end of 2018 as a consultant.
Pitaro joined Disney in 2010, and has served as the chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media since 2016. His previous experience also includes a spell as vice president and head of Yahoo! Media, including leading Yahoo! Sports.
Among Pitaro’s first tasks will be handling the launch of ESPN Plus, the network’s new direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service which is expected to debut early this year.
“As a passionate and lifelong sports fan, I am honoured to be joining the ESPN team during such a pivotal time in its storied history,” said Pitaro. “The appetite for quality sports content across platforms has never been greater, and I am looking forward to working with the talented ESPN team as we continue to redefine the future fan experience.”
“Jimmy is a talented and dedicated leader with the right strategic vision, relentless drive and passion for sports required to lead the stellar ESPN team at this incredibly dynamic time,” Iger added. “Jimmy forged his career at the intersection of technology, sports and media, and his vast experience and keen perspective will be invaluable in taking ESPN into the future.
“I also want to extend my utmost thanks to George Bodenheimer for serving as acting chair of ESPN these past few months; he is a true industry pioneer and helped make ESPN the undisputed leader in sports.”