John Skipper resigned from his position as president of ESPN last December, citing a years-long “substance addiction” as his reasoning. Two months after ESPN hired James Pitaro as their new president, Skipper has resurfaced to join Perform Group, as Executive Chairman of the global sports media company.
Perform Group is based in the UK, founder Simon Denyer will continue as the company’s CEO in London, with Skipper’s role allowing him to remain in New York.
“Simon and his team have built an enormously impressive company, providing an excellent base to establish a global leadership position in the over-the-top sports subscription business, the clear future of sports delivery,” said John Skipper, Executive Chairman Perform Group. “Perform Group’s platform and expertise, coupled with its success in launching subscription services in Germany, Japan and Canada provides a model we intend to replicate around the world.”
Skipper left ESPN during a crucial time, when the company was dealing with a ratings decline, sexual harassment allegations (not about Skipper, who had just prior signed an extension to remain with the network) and awaiting the launch of their new OTT platform.
Since Skipper’s departure ESPN has undergone programming changes including the cancellation of SC6. Under James Pitaro, ESPN also followed through on projects that began with Skipper at the helm, including Mike Greenberg’s new morning show, Get Up, and the launch of their direct-to-consumer subscription service ESPN+. Perform Group has an OTT sports streaming service of their own called DAZN.
In his new position with Perform Group, Skipper will oversee all operations and strategy of the company and report to the Board, but it would make sense for the former ESPN president to have a focus on growing DAZN.
“Perform is rapidly expanding its role in sports media with significant investments in the best content and our own platform. We are now preparing to push forward with the expansion of DAZN, our live and on-demand streaming service, in more major markets around the world,” said Simon Denyer, CEO Perform Group. “DAZN is revolutionizing how fans watch their favorite sports. John is one of the most significant leaders in the history of our industry, and I am delighted that he has agreed to join me and the team to help take Perform to the next level of our ambitions.”