John Skipper to Remain President of ESPN Through 2018

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John Skipper

Skipper has held the post since 2012 but has arguably been through more tumult this year than in the past.

ESPN has secured the services of John Skipper, who will remain president of Walt Disney's powerhouse sports network through 2018 under the terms of a recently signed contract extension, insiders said late Wednesday.

Skipper has been president of ESPN since 2012 but has arguably been through more tumult this year than in the past, having severed ties with Keith Olbermann, Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd and recently stirring controversy for suspending baseball analyst Curt Schilling over a politically charged tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis.

Skipper's biggest challenge going forward, though, is to restore growth at the massively profitable sports network, which he'll do in part by cutting expenses, a response to the channel losing about 3 million subscribers in the past year or so as consumers cut back on their cable bills by opting for skinnier bundles.

Disney, in fact, sparked a sell-off of its own stock and that of its competitors last month when it acknowledged during its quarterly earnings report that ESPN wasn't growing its bottom line as quickly as Wall Street had expected.

Skipper also faces unprecedented competition with the launch of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 a couple of years ago, and aggressive bidding has driven the cost of sports rights to dizzying heights. 

ESPN remains the undisputed leader in cable sports, though, with 93 million subscribers and carriage fees of $6.61 per month, according to SNL Kagan, by far the highest in the industry.

ESPN declined to comment on Skipper's contract extension.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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