10:05am PT by Lesley Goldberg
ESPN's Justin Connolly to Lead Combined Disney Sales Team
Days after longtime sales and distribution exec Janice Marinelli departed her post as head of global sales and distribution, Disney announced that Justin Connolly will lead the newly combined sales and marketing team that now includes ESPN and other arms of the company.
Disney will combine all the company's media sales and channel distribution into one organization, overseen by Connolly, who has been promoted from ESPN executive vice president to the newly created role of president of media distribution. Connolly will report to Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney's direct-to-consumer and international segment.
"By combining all of our media, affiliate, content and syndication sales, and distribution efforts into the direct-to-consumer and international segment, we continue to transform the ways in which we distribute the great stories and characters created by The Walt Disney Company's studios and media networks," said Mayer. "I've had the great pleasure of working with Justin for many years and believe his experience makes him well-suited to drive Disney's media sales and distribution efforts. He is a consummate professional, a fantastic dealmaker and a great leader."
In his new role, Connolly will continue to oversee all aspects of North American distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations Disney and ESPN media networks, including Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, National Geographic and owned-and-operated ABC stations. He will continue to have oversight of the ABC affiliate relations and marketing team. Connolly will also work closely with the direct-to-consumer and international team's international content sales teams, who will now report directly to their respective regional leaders. Connolly will have final approval on all content sales agreements for Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Animation, Disneynature, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, National Geographic, FX Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, WABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. He will also spearhead global app distribution deals for Disney's upcoming streaming services, including Disney+, ESPN+ and Movies Anywhere, while also being charged with distribution of film and TV programming via home entertainment, broadcast and digital platforms, SVOD and premium networks.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the industry's best multiplatform sales and distribution teams," said Connolly. "Through our combined efforts we will achieve the company's vision for an even stronger, more agile organization that is better able to pivot and capitalize on the many opportunities present in today's fast-changing and increasingly complex global marketplace."