James Pitaro named new head of ESPN

  • James Pitaro was an early favorite for the position.
  • He takes the helm as Disney readies its direct-to-consumer streaming service.
  • He will report directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Long-time Disney executive James Pitaro has been named president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, the company announced Monday.

Pitaro was an early favorite for the position and takes the helm as Disney readies its direct-to-consumer streaming service. He will report directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

"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," Iger said in a statement.

Pitaro has led Disney's consumer products and interactive media division since 2016 and succeeds John Skipper who resigned in December to deal with substance abuse issues.

"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 statement. "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."

Pitaro previously held positions at Launch Media and Yahoo, lending experience to Disney's digital push.

The company's forthcoming streaming service could pose a challenge to incumbents in the space like Netflix, bolstered by ESPN's live sports offerings.