Disney’s sports channel is expanding the responsibilities of ESPN veteran Connor Schell, naming him EVP Content. As part of his new role he will oversee all of ESPN’s content creation across ESPN’s television, digital and print platforms.
In his new position, effective immediately, Schell also adds responsibility for studio and remote production, and digital and print content creation, to his previous charge of overseeing ESPN Films, Original Content, Audio and the company’s Talent Office. He will continue to report to ESPN President John Skipper.
As part of its revamp, ESPN will merge strategy and development under Justin Connelly, and digital product development will move to technology overseen by Aaron LaBerge.
The moves follow recent change-ups at ESPN’s flagship newscast SportsCenter and efforts to boost ratings as viewers increasingly turn to mobile devices for the latest scores and video highlights. Beginning August 28, SportsCenter will offer frequent news updates on TV as well as digital platforms.
EVP Production and Executive Editor Norby Williamson, SVP Events & Studio Production Stephanie Druley, and SVP SportsCenter, News & Information Rob King will report to Schell and oversee the following areas of content:
— Williamson will add oversight of daytime studio programming, original content, the ESPN Films group, ESPN Audio and the Talent Office to his previous content operations, creative services, multi-media sponsorship integration, management operations, content development and special projects responsibilities, such as ESPN’s successful fantasy and college basketball bracket marathons. He will also focus on working with content leaders to help bring new concepts to life across platforms.
— Druley will continue to be responsible for all of ESPN’s Event Production, and all studio content associated with the NFL, Major League Baseball and college sports. Additionally, she oversees all content production on the SEC Network and Longhorn Network, and will now add a global footprint with the addition of international and Spanish-language production efforts. Rodolfo Martinez, VP ESPN Deportes & International Production, will jointly report to Druley and Tim Bunnell, SVP International Programming, Production, Marketing and Ad Sales.
— King will continue to oversee SportsCenter and news content (including E:60 and Outside The Lines), and will now add responsibility for all global digital and print content including ESPN.com, The Undefeated, espnW, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN The Magazine, and ESPNFC, merging all of ESPN’s news and information operations under one management team.
Burke Magnus, EVP Programming and Scheduling, will continue to report to Skipper, overseeing the company’s program acquisitions and rightsholder relations, content strategy and scheduling. Magnus and his team will now assume direct oversight of ESPN’s relationship with BAMTech.
“Connor has demonstrated keen insight into what resonates with fans, and his instincts allow him to excel at managing the creative process,” said Skipper. “I have tremendous confidence that he and his new team of talented executives will help us create dynamic content that will break through in a changing environment.”
Said Schell: “ESPN has always been at the forefront of the creation of exceptional content for sports fans across every platform, and my colleagues are the most creative, collaborative and dedicated people in the industry. I am very excited about working with this team to build on our legacy of innovation and great storytelling to continue to serve fans in new ways.”
Schell is a multi-Emmy and -Peabody winner for his work as executive producer and co-creator of the acclaimed 30 For 30 documentary series. He has shepherded ESPN Films since its inception leading to ESPN’s first-ever Academy Award earlier this year, for O.J.: Made In America. Schell has also served as an executive producer of various projects across Disney in television and film. In his most recent role as SVP and Executive Producer, ESPN Original Content, Schell has been responsible for the ESPYs, NBA Countdown and The Jump, and opinion-based studio shows including Pardon The Interruption and First Take.
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