Sony TV Exec Ross Hair Departs for ESPN

He will now launch sports networks and lead local programming strategies as managing director across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

LONDON -- ESPN has poached Sony Pictures Television's exec Ross Hair to become its new managing director across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Hair, who was evp of Sony's European TV networks and expanded distribution for such channels as AXN, will now turn to launching sports networks and driving a local programming strategy for ESPN, where he was director of strategic planning at ESPN Star Sports in Singapore before joining Sony.

ESPN is looking to expand its portfolio of live local and international rights -- such as the package of live Premier League Soccer rights it acquired when U.K. sports operator Setanta Sports collapsed -- and use that to expand into channels offering live local sports content.

“Ross joins at a time of tremendous momentum in the U.K. and across EMEA for ESPN," explains Russell Wolff, evp and managing director, ESPN International, said. "Our new network in the U.K. has had a strong start to its second season, ESPN America is expanding its HD footprint in Europe, our digital properties continue to perform well and grow and ESPN Classic continues to play an important role in connecting millions to ESPN’s passion for sport."

Hair replaces Lynne Frank, who after five years with ESPN left the company earlier this year to return to her native California.