Report: Ex-ESPN Head John Skipper Had Built-up Tensions with Disney CEO Bob Iger Before Exit

Those stresses started early in Skipper’s tenure and lasted until his resignation.

john skipper
ESPN President John Skipper addresses the audience at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit. (Mpu Dinani/Getty Images)
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Before leaving ESPN in the midst of a substance abuse scandal, John Skipper had built up enough tension with Disney CEO Bob Iger that he could have ended up departing anyway.

Those tensions started early in Skipper’s tenure when he missed a corporate plane trip with Iger following a night of partying after the ESPY Awards, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Not happy with being stood up, Iger initiated an investigation into Skipper’s activities that night and examined his company phone records.

On the business side of things when faced with rising costs and lower ratings, Iger expressed concerns to Skipper that there were too many editions of SportsCenter and that the flagship show “wasn’t distinguishing itself.”

Skipper also had concerns prior to his departure, including worries that rumors Disney was considering spinning off its stake in ESPN were true. Skipper also was resistant to bring in Disney employee James Pitaro as his No. 2, as he wanted to promote from inside ESPN.

As it turned out, Skipper was correct to have reservations as Pitaro ended up replacing him.

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