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John Skipper is ESPN's new boss

ESPN president John Skipper.

ESPN president John Skipper. Photo Credit: AP, 2010

John Skipper, who had been ESPN's top executive in charge of content, since Jan. 1 has been ESPN's top executive in charge of, well, everything. He succeeded George Bodenheimer in what widely was expected to be an orderly transition.

I asked Skipper about that last week and he described the changed as, yup, orderly.

Here is what he said:

"The transition has been great - really, really great. It's been great because I’ve gotten unbelievable support, including from George, who is still active - he's executive chairman and I see him regularly and speak with him regularly.

"The people at ESPN have been overwhelmingly supportive . . . The transition has been great. We’ve got a very experienced senior group with Sean Bratches and Christine Driessen and Ed Durso and Chuck Pagano and of course John Wildhack and Norby Williamson and John Kosner.

"So it's not like I had anything to fix. My job is to maintain the momentum that George established in his tenure. So the transition surprisingly, I think to date, has been pretty smooth."

On whether it has been "weird" to be in a new role:

"It has not been weird. You do automatically sort of feel differently. It’s funny. I’m making the same decisions I would have made before, but when you are sort of the final stop it does feel differently.

"I’ll give you a pertinent example here, and something I almost hate to bring up. During the Jeremy Lin situation my point of view would have been different as head of content. I may have done the same thing but in this case I was much more concerned about the company and the criticism we were taking and whether I’m protecting the brand and doing the right thing overall for the company as opposed to, I’m in charge of the talent and I have to decide what the right discipline is relative to the talent.

"So, yes is the ultimate answer to your question. It’s different. It requires a different mindset. But I have to say it shockingly sort of happens. I don’t know how exactly. When I make speeches now, as the head of content I used to be more much comfortable that I was speaking for myself and the company. Now you really feel like you’re speaking for the company so I am somewhat more careful

"I enjoy having fun in front of a crowd and laughing and sometimes being a little irreverent. As the president of the company you feel differently. You do feel you have a certain level of responsibility that requires you to be a little more thoughtful and a little more prudent."


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