Pitaro had been the chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media since 2016. He was formerly a vice president and head of Yahoo! Media, including leading Yahoo! Sports. His appointment is effective immediately.
“As a passionate and lifelong sports fan, I am honored to be joining the ESPN team during such a pivotal time in its storied history,” Pitaro said in a news release issued by the Walt Disney Company, the parent of ESPN. “The appetite for quality sports content across platforms has never been greater, and I am looking forward to working with the talented ESPN team as we continue to redefine the future fan experience.”
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Among the first orders of business for Pitaro is the launch of ESPN , the network’s direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service, which debuts in the spring. ESPN will be part of the ESPN App, which will house all of the company’s digital offerings, including news, scores, highlights and authenticated streams of ESPN’s domestic U.S. networks.
“Jimmy is a talented and dedicated leader with the right strategic vision, relentless drive and passion for sports required to lead the stellar ESPN team at this incredibly dynamic time,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said. “Jimmy forged his career at the intersection of technology, sports and media, and his vast experience and keen perspective will be invaluable in taking ESPN into the future.”
The announcement came less than three months after the resignation of John Skipper, who had been ESPN’s president for nearly six years. Skipper resigned on Dec. 18, citing a struggle with substance addiction.
Pitaro is a graduate of Cornell University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He has a law degree from St. John’s, and he practiced law at several New York firms before going into media.
George Bodenheimer, who took over as acting chairman of ESPN after Skipper left, will turn the reins over to Pitaro.
“I also want to extend my utmost thanks to George Bodenheimer for serving as Acting Chair of ESPN these past few months,” Iger said in the statement. “He is a true industry pioneer and helped make ESPN the undisputed leader in sports.”