ESPN is losing an exec who helped to turn both it and the cable industry into financial juggernauts. Sales and Marketing EVP Sean Bratches plans to end his 27-year career at the Disney-owned sports programmer at the end of this year. He’ll serve in what ESPN calls “an advisory capacity” until then.

espn_logo__130813225927-275x206__140509150446Bratches has helped to craft and negotiate ESPN’s distribution deals with cable and satellite distributors and its ad sales as the company expanded from a single domestic channel to eight, plus multiple offshoot businesses around the globe. “He told me recently he wants to take on new challenges, after achieving so much with us — an understandable goal given his vision, business savvy and relentlessly positive impact on people,” ESPN President John Skipper says.

Bratches says that “the time just felt right to pursue my next adventure” at a time when “my teams are performing at their highest levels.”

ESPN says Bratches led the distribution effort for ESPN HD, deemed “the tipping point for the proliferation and adoption of high-definition television — both from an industry and consumer perspective.” The exec and his team also helped launch WatchESPN in 2010, introducing “the first live, streaming cable channels online and in mobile devices.”