ESPN's Skipper to replace Bodenheimer as president
BRISTOL, Conn.—ESPN President George Bodenheimer will relinquish his day-to-day responsibilities Jan. 1, with John Skipper taking over the role.
"We've focused on succession at all levels of Disney for some time now, and consistent with that approach, George initiated conversations last spring that led to today's announcement," Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said in a statement.
Last month, Iger said he would step down in March 2015 to make way for a new chief executive.
Skipper, 55, has been ESPN's executive vice president for content since October 2005. He joined ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. Previously, he was senior vice president of The Disney Publishing Group, overseeing all of Disney's publishing operations in the United States.
Skipper will serve as ESPN's president and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, putting him on an equal footing with Anne Sweeney, the other co-chair, who also heads the Disney/ABC Television Group.
The promotion gives Skipper a key position at the biggest and most profitable division of Disney -- its television business.
ESPN's strong performance has lifted the importance of Disney's pay TV channel business within the company and has given Disney unparalleled negotiating strength with distributors such as cable and satellite companies.
Bodenheimer, 53, will continue to chair ESPN's board of directors. He has been president for 13 years, during which the company grew substantially. Bodenheimer, who joined ESPN in 1981 as a driver in the mail room, is the longest-tenured top executive at the sports network.
Bodenheimer said that after 31 years at ESPN, "it was a good time to step away from the day to day management of ESPN and let others take the lead."