In “Halftime” Note, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro Points To Positive Results From The Sports Operation’s “Clear, Go-Forward Strategy”

At the outset of an eventful second half of 2024, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro has issued his “reflections at halftime” on the sports operation’s accomplishments thus far in 2024.

The exec’s public memo was accompanied by a short video and timeline. Highlights include the launch of Venu Sports, a joint streaming venture with Fox Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery; key rights extensions and talent signings; and ratings records for coverage of the NFL, Formula 1, the WNBA and women’s college basketball, among other telecasts.

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“ESPN has had a tremendous first six months of 2024,” Pitaro wrote. “I could not be prouder of the team’s performance.”

The first half of the year, he added, “reinforced the effectiveness of our clear, go-forward strategy (including the timing for our Flagship DTC launch and an ESPN tile on Disney+). Initiatives like Venu Sports, the opening of ESPN BET’s first retail sportsbook and our Disney collaboration for NHL Big City Greens Classic 2 were all examples of how we’re smartly navigating a changing landscape.”

On tap for the rest of the year, Pitaro noted, are coverage of Wimbledon (which began earlier Monday) as well as the WNBA Finals, the U.S. Open and the return of college and NFL football. The documentary In the Arena: Serena Williams will also debut later this year, as will Venu Sports.

ESPN last year was positioned as one of three corporate divisions of the Walt Disney Co. Pitaro has also been identified as one of four internal candidates to replace Disney CEO Bob Iger when his contract expires at the end of 2026.

Since taking the reins at ESPN as president in 2018, Pitaro has steered the division through a period of non-stop change. For two-plus decades a reliable income generator due to its dual revenue stream in the peak era of pay-TV, ESPN has seen its linear penetration decline steadily over the past decade, forcing a rethink of long-established business practices. Pitaro has overseen a series of streaming initiatives and also sought to shore up younger viewers with moves like signing YouTube host Pat McAfee and rolling out sports wagering service ESPN Bet.

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