John Skipper

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John Skipper
BornJohn Skipper
Lexington, North Carolina, U.S.
Alma materUNC-Chapel Hill
Columbia University
OccupationExecutive chairman of Perform Group
Known forTenure as President of ESPN, Perform Group

John Skipper is an American television executive, current executive chairman of Perform Group, and former president of ESPN.[1]


Education and early career[edit]

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 Sports Illustrated 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]

Perform Group[edit]

On May 8, 2018, it was announced that Skipper had been hired as executive chairman of Perform Group, a British international sports media company. Skipper will operate out of New York City.[11][12]

On May 10, 2018, Perform Group announced a $1 billion joint venture with Matchroom Boxing[13] and a nine-figure multiyear global distribution agreement with Bellator MMA.[14]

On July 17, 2018, Perform Group announced the launch of DAZN in the U.S.[15] As a live and on-demand sports streaming service, DAZN produces over 100,000 hours of sport content worldwide every year and over 15,000 live events, including the Super Bowl, NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB, top European soccer including Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga, plus F1, UFC, tennis and more. DAZN is also available in Canada, Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. On September 14, 2018, DAZN announced a landmark, multiyear rights agreement in the U.S. with Combate Americas.[16] DAZN announced a 11-fight deal in the U.S. with world champion boxer Canelo Álvarez and Golden Boy Promotions on October 17, 2018.[17]


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.”[18] He was credited for taking chances on ambitious projects like Grantland, FiveThirtyEight, The Undefeated, and 30 for 30.[19]

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."[20]

He was also praised for pushing ESPN to become "more diverse on air and online when it came to both gender and race."[21]

During Skipper's tenure ESPN lost nearly 15% of its subscribers and laid off more than 500 employees. Additionally, ESPN's TV ratings declined significantly across the board and the network endured criticism from some quarters over the declining quality of its programming.[22][23][24][25] In October 2017, Skipper reportedly made a bizarre series of comments blaming ESPN's struggles on a secret conspiracy between FoxNews, President Trump, and prominent ESPN critics.[26] [27]

Skipper's 2014 disregard of eSports as a "real sport", referring to them as a "competition" instead, has been negatively noted by various websites.[28][29][30][31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Skipper is married and has two children.[3]


  1. ^ A.J. Katz (8 May 2018). "Former ESPN Chief John Skipper Joins Streaming Sports Media Company Perform Group". AdWeek. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Lexington native to head ESPN". Winston-Salem Journal. November 23, 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "John Skipper". Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  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 (8 May 2018). "Former ESPN President John Skipper Lands New Job After Resigning Abruptly". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  6. ^ Ahiza Garcia and Brian Stelter (14 November 2017). "ESPN chief John Skipper gets contract extension". CNN Money. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b Joe Drape and Kevin Draper (22 December 2017). "A Sports Titan's Strange and Sudden Abdication". New York Times. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Jemele Hill and More ESPN Staffers React to John Skipper's Resignation". Variety. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  10. ^ Stelter, Brian. "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 10 November 2018.
  12. ^ Matt Bonesteel (8 May 2018). "Former ESPN president John Skipper lands new job at global sports media company". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Ex-ESPN president is building next media empire on boxing". New York Post. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Bellator and Perform Group Strike Major Streaming Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  15. ^ Hayes, Dade (17 July 2018). "John Skipper-Led Streaming Service DAZN Touts September U.S. Launch". Deadline.
  16. ^ "John Skipper Plans to Lead DAZN to the Top of Boxing".
  17. ^ Matthews, Wallace. "Matthews: DAZN and ex-ESPN boss John Skipper gambling on Canelo Alvarez delivering big numbers for streaming service". NY Daily News.
  18. ^ "The Legacy of John Skipper and the Future of ESPN". The Ringer. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  19. ^ Maese, Rick (December 18, 2017). "ESPN President John Skipper resigns, capping a tumultuous year for network". Retrieved December 24, 2017 – via
  20. ^ "Examining John Skipper's Legacy at ESPN". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  21. ^ "ESPN President John Skipper Leaves Legacy Laden With Diversification After Resignation". SportsBusiness Daily.
  22. ^ "ESPN keeps hemorrhaging subscribers". May 30, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  23. ^ Steinberg, Brian (November 9, 2017). "New Layoffs Expected at ESPN (Report)". Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  24. ^, The Washington Times. "ESPN may be nearing new round of layoffs; source says 'it's not going to be pretty'". Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  25. ^ "SC6 at 3 Months: Michael Smith and Jemele Hill Haven't Saved ESPN SportsCenter Ratings Yet". May 9, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Schwartz, Nick (September 6, 2014). "ESPN's president says that eSports are not 'real sports,' and he's wrong". USA Today.
  29. ^ Hillier, Brenna (September 8, 2014). "ESPN boss says eSports are not "real sports"". VG247.
  30. ^ Reahard, Jef (September 8, 2014). "ESPN boss: E-sports aren't sports". Engadget.
  31. ^ Tassi, Paul (September 7, 2014). "ESPN Boss Declares eSports 'Not A Sport'". Forbes.
  32. ^ Gera, Emily (October 1, 2014). "Does eSports need ESPN before the mainstream accepts it?". Polygon.

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