The present head of ESPN, John Skipper announced his resignation on Monday, following an admission of his struggle with substance addiction. In the aftermath of the decision, ESPN’s former president, George Bodenheimer will step in and take over the reins of the company.
In his admission Skipper expressed a sense of shame and sadness. He said, “I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down”.
He went on to explain, “I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem”.
Skipper was leader of the Disney owned sports company since Bodenheimer’s retirement in 2012. He began his career with the company in 1997 and had even signed an extension to his contract which would keep him in his position until the end of 2021.
However, in recent times, the company has faced a number of pressing issues. ESPN’s ratings have slipped and the company is not the Goliath it once was.
ESPN’s decline has been attributed to a marked decrease in the pay-TV subscriptions being registered in the United States. In response to the lag, the company has been forced to lay off a number of people in recent years.
Skipper’s admission and resignation thus comes at a difficult time for the company. Despite the obstacles being faced by ESPN, its parent company, Disney, has managed to have a booming week.
Disney finalized its deal with Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and purchased the latter’s media and entertainment assets for $52.4 billion. The move is certain to prove lucrative for Disney in the long run since Fox’s reach in Europe and Asia is unparalleled.
Disney also has plans to compete with online streaming networks like Netflix and is looking to introduce an ESPN Plus streaming service by 2018.