ESPN President John Skipper resigned on Monday, citing a struggle with substance abuse. Skipper had been with ESPN for the past twenty years, serving in his current role since 2012. George Bodenheimer will take over in the interim. Bodenheimer, the Executive Chairman, certainly has big shoes to fill as John Skipper’s legacy looms large at ESPN.
The biggest television deal ESPN has is with the NFL. Right now, the channel simply telecasts Monday Night Football games and one wildcard playoff matchup. All of that adds up to a tab of $1.9 billion per year. ESPN will continue paying the massive figure for rights to America’s favorite sport until 2021. It has left many subscribers to wonder if ESPN can truly afford to outbid other media outlets for NFL rights after that season is completed. One sport that ESPN may have cut ties to make room for a future NFL contract is the MLB. The two sides reached a $5.6 billion deal five years ago. That agreement expires in 2021 – yes, the same year as the NFL’s deal.
In 2014, ESPN signed a deal with the NBA to broadcast the league’s games for nine years at a total price of $24 billion. The media giant also reached a huge agreement with College Football that runs through 2025. The airing of the College Football Playoffs will cost ESPN $475 million per season. Smaller deals the channel has in place includes the WNBA at $12 million per year and a deal that ESPN shared with Fox for the rights to MLS games. Both sides will combine to pay $75 million per year through 2022.
Just before Skipper resigned, ESPN struck a massive deal with 21st Century Fox. ESPN will now control the majority of the Fox regional networks, while the rival will hold onto FS1 and FS2. This deal was struck in the hopes of ESPN launching a paid streaming service. The long-awaited bundle has been Skipper’s focus for several years. ESPN hopes to debut the service in 2018.
Rounds Of Layoffs
Of course, no president’s resume comes without a few stains. As cable-cutting became one of the nation’s biggest trends, Skipper and company had to adjust by cutting costs. After losing more than ten million subscribers over the years, ESPN began massive rounds of layoffs. It started with 300 layoffs in 2015, followed by several hundred more this year. Big names let go by the sports giant include Jay Crawford, Trent Dilfer, John Clayton, Marc Stein, and Danny Kanell.