John Skipper

John Skipper is an American television executive, former executive chairman of DAZN Group, former president of ESPN, and co-founder of Meadowlark Media.[1]

John Skipper
John Skipper (cropped).jpg
Alma materUNC-Chapel Hill
Columbia University
OccupationExecutive chairman of DAZN Group
Known forTenure as president of ESPN, DAZN Group, co-founder of Meadowlark Media


Education and early careerEdit

Skipper attended Lexington Senior High School in Lexington, North Carolina. He then attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor's degree in English literature. After receiving his master's degree in the same field from Columbia University, he went to work for Rolling Stone, beginning as an executive assistant before being promoted. He also worked for Us and Spin before becoming senior vice president of Disney Publishing Group.[2]


In June 1997, Skipper became senior vice president and general manager of ESPN the Magazine.[3] In October 2005, he was named as executive vice president of content. On January 1, 2012, he became president of ESPN Inc. and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.[4][5] In 2017, Skipper's contract with ESPN's parent company, Disney, was extended through 2021.[6] In his time as President, Skipper was noted for negotiating large television rights contracts for sporting events, including a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the National Basketball Association and a $7.3 billion deal for the College Football Playoff, as well as all four tennis Grand Slams and golf's Masters Tournament.[7]

On December 18, 2017, Skipper revealed that he had been struggling with substance addiction, and announced that he would be resigning as president of ESPN in order to focus on treatment. John Skipper told The Hollywood Reporter that a cocaine extortion attempt led to his ESPN departure.[8] His predecessor George Bodenheimer served as acting chairman of the company during the transition to new leadership.[4] In the wake of Skipper's announcement, the New York Times reported that he "didn't have a reputation for partying or erratic behavior" among coworkers at ESPN or confidants in his personal life.[7]

After his resignation, many current and former ESPN staffers, including Jemele Hill, Michele Steele, and Keith Olbermann, applauded Skipper's past work and the decision to focus on his personal life.[9][10]

DAZN GroupEdit

On May 8, 2018, it was announced that Skipper had been hired as executive chairman of DAZN Group, a British international sports media company. Skipper will operate out of New York City.[11][12] The company subsequently announced plans to launch its international sports streaming service DAZN in the United States later in the year, anchored by a deal with British promoter Eddie Hearn to hold major boxing events in the U.S. to carry on DAZN.[13][14]

Skipper explained that he wanted the service to eventually be a larger competitor to entities such as ESPN and compete for more significant sports rights, but that they wanted to "build our brand in this country, expose the quality of our technology and start to meet people." Of his personal condition, Skipper added that "I'm in a great place. I am excellent, quite healthy. I think you can tell that. I have a level of acceptance and enthusiasm going forward."[15][16]

Meadowlark MediaEdit

In January 2021, Skipper joined former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard to launch Meadowlark Media, a content company focused on sports. He will remain at his position at DAZN.[17] The company most recently signed a deal with Apple TV+.[18]


Skipper's time as President of ESPN received both praise and criticism. He was admired for his strong support of journalism. The Ringer wrote that "he knew quality" and "spoke a language that editorial people could understand."[19] He was credited for taking chances on ambitious projects like Grantland, FiveThirtyEight, The Undefeated, and 30 for 30.[20]

Sports Illustrated wrote that Skipper made ESPN "gobs of cash ... but he also made the network smarter and sharper." Skipper "championed soccer and the NBA, realizing that ESPN, armed with its many affiliates and platforms, could get more out of broadcast rights than any of its competitors could."[21]

He was also praised for pushing ESPN to become "more diverse on air and online when it came to both gender and race."[22]

During Skipper's tenure, ESPN lost nearly 15% of its subscribers as consumers moved to streaming and over-the-top (OTT) options and laid off more than 500 employees as all traditional media companies were impacted by cable's decline. Additionally, ESPN's TV ratings declined significantly across the board due to the cord-cutting and the network endured criticism from new competitors over the declining quality of its programming.[23][24][25][26]

Skipper's 2014 disregard of eSports as a "real sport", referring to them as a "competition" instead, has been negatively noted by various websites.[27][28][29][30][31]

Personal lifeEdit

Skipper is divorced with two adult sons and lives in Manhattan. In 2018, he began dating Venezuelan fashion entrepreneur Carmen Busquets.[citation needed]


  1. ^ A.J. Katz (May 8, 2018). "Former ESPN Chief John Skipper Joins Streaming Sports Media Company Perform Group". AdWeek. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  2. ^ "Lexington native to head ESPN". Winston-Salem Journal. November 23, 2011. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  3. ^ "ESPN President John Skipper resigns, capping a tumultuous year for network". Washington Post.
  4. ^ a b Littleton, Cynthia (December 18, 2017). "ESPN Chief John Skipper Steps Down, Citing Substance Addiction Problem". Variety. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  5. ^ Dan Gartland (May 8, 2018). "Former ESPN President John Skipper Lands New Job After Resigning Abruptly". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  6. ^ Ahiza Garcia and Brian Stelter (November 14, 2017). "ESPN chief John Skipper gets contract extension". CNN Money. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Joe Drape and Kevin Draper (December 22, 2017). "A Sports Titan's Strange and Sudden Abdication". New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Jemele Hill and More ESPN Staffers React to John Skipper's Resignation". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Stelter, Brian (December 18, 2017). "ESPN staffers shocked, saddened by John Skipper's resignation". CNNMoney.
  11. ^ "John Skipper, Who Abruptly Left ESPN, Has a New Job". New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  12. ^ Matt Bonesteel (May 8, 2018). "Former ESPN president John Skipper lands new job at global sports media company". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  13. ^ "Hearn has big U.S. plans with $1B DAZN deal". ESPN. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  14. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (May 10, 2018). "Eddie Hearn boasts $1bn transatlantic streaming deal is 'biggest ever in boxing'". The Guardian. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  15. ^ "Streaming sports service DAZN to compete with ESPN". Newsday. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "John Skipper: 'Big leagues will want DAZN at the table'". SportsPro. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  17. ^ Steinberg, Brian (January 19, 2021). "John Skipper, Dan Le Batard Join to Launch Meadowlark Media". Variety. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  18. ^ Porter, Rick (November 1, 2021). "John Skipper, Dan Le Batard's Meadowlark Media Inks Apple TV+ First-Look Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  19. ^ "The Legacy of John Skipper and the Future of ESPN". The Ringer. December 18, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Maese, Rick (December 18, 2017). "ESPN President John Skipper resigns, capping a tumultuous year for network". Retrieved December 24, 2017 – via
  21. ^ "Examining John Skipper's Legacy at ESPN". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  22. ^ "ESPN President John Skipper Leaves Legacy Laden With Diversification After Resignation". SportsBusiness Daily.
  23. ^ "ESPN keeps hemorrhaging subscribers". May 30, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  24. ^ Steinberg, Brian (November 9, 2017). "New Layoffs Expected at ESPN (Report)". Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  25. ^ "ESPN may be nearing new round of layoffs; source says 'it's not going to be pretty'". The Washington Times. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "SC6 at 3 Months: Michael Smith and Jemele Hill Haven't Saved ESPN SportsCenter Ratings Yet". May 9, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Nick (September 6, 2014). "ESPN's president says that eSports are not 'real sports,' and he's wrong". USA Today.
  28. ^ Hillier, Brenna (September 8, 2014). "ESPN boss says eSports are not "real sports"". VG247.
  29. ^ Reahard, Jef (September 8, 2014). "ESPN boss: E-sports aren't sports". Engadget.
  30. ^ Tassi, Paul (September 7, 2014). "ESPN Boss Declares eSports 'Not A Sport'". Forbes.
  31. ^ Gera, Emily (October 1, 2014). "Does eSports need ESPN before the mainstream accepts it?". Polygon.

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