ESPN shuffles executive team, places Schell in charge of all content

ESPN Los Angeles
The strategic management shift at ESPN comes amid continued struggles for the network.

ESPN has made some major changes to its executive team and put Connor Schell in charge of all content for the network.

Schell has been named executive vice president of content and will oversee all of ESPN’s content creation across its television, digital and print platforms. The promotion adds to Schell’s purview, which previously encompassed overseeing ESPN Films, Original Content, Audio and the company’s Talent Office. He will continue to report to ESPN President John Skipper.

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The strategic management shift at ESPN comes amid continued struggles for the network, which is having to mitigate falling subscriber numbers and rising programming costs.

Nielsen’s latest numbers show that ESPN lost 3.8% of its subscribers in May, according to the New York Post. That loss rate was well ahead of the 2.9% subscriber drop for cable channels during the month.

ESPN’s struggles led to a round of layoffs in May, and veteran on-air journalist John Clayton was one of the big names reportedly leaving the network amid the cuts. According to Sporting News, the NFL analyst will exit ESPN after spending 23 years with the network.

As Schell rises to a new position, John Kosner, executive vice president of Digital and Print Media, will be leaving the company after 20 years.

“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,” said Skipper in a statement.

Other management shifts for ESPN include having Justin Connolly, executive vice president of Affiliate Sales and Marketing, add strategy and development to his current duties watching over distribution for the Disney and ESPN Media Networks.

Marie Donoghue, executive vice president of Global Business and Content Strategy, after having helped lead Disney’s investment in BAMTech, will remain with ESPN through the end of the year in an advisory role to Skipper.