Amazon Hires Former ESPN Exec Marie Donoghue For Key Sports Role


Amazon has hired longtime ex-ESPN executive Marie Donoghue to head sports for Prime Video, an area of mounting importance for Amazon.

Donoghue spent 19 years with ESPN before departing in 2017. She helped develop the “30 for 30” documentary brand and had a credit on the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made in America.

While Amazon execs have been coy about their strategy in sports, they are increasingly looking to advertising as a source of revenue company-wide and are keenly aware of the headwinds faced by traditional TV networks. Sports remains one of the few areas of programming that viewers will watch live and absorb advertising, at least to some extent.

Amazon recently extended its streaming deal for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football and added select Premiere League rights in the UK and other territory deals. Initially, the tech giant established a presence in sports via behind-the-scenes docu-series about high-visibility realms like the NFL and Michigan college football. The Seattle tech giant has been mentioned as a contender for major sports rights as traditional contracts expire, including Monday Night Football and regular Sunday packages, which will come up for renewal in the next couple of years.

Many traditional companies, notably ESPN, have moved aggressively to keep digital rivals at bay regardless of the cost. As it rolled out subscription service ESPN+, the Disney-owned network announced rich deals for MMA and boxing that signaled an intent to pay a premium.

One sport that may require Donoghue’s attention in the short run is tennis, at least from the technical standpoint. The switchboard of the Internet is still lighting up with complaints from viewers in the UK and Ireland, who complained about latency and other glitches in Amazon’s coverage of the U.S. Open. More than 80% of the hundreds of comments┬áposted on Amazon gave the coverage one-star reviews.

The Information first reported Donoghue’s hiring.

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