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ESPN Names New Executive Team

“On Monday, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro announced plans for a new management structure at the network.”

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After learning that ESPN’s Executive Vice President of Content Connor Schell would be exiting the company in January to start his own production company, more executive changes are taking place at the worldwide leader.

In addition to Schell, Jodi Markley will also be leaving. Markley who serves as the network’s Executive Vice President of Content Operations and Creative Services will retire in April after 32 years in Bristol.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of ESPN over the past 32 years, Markley said in a press release. “I am proud of the industry-leading innovation and creativity of our team, and feel blessed to have worked alongside such incredibly talented people who love what they do. I am confident in the direction we are headed under Jimmy Pitaro and will enjoy my next chapter as a fan.”

“ESPN is an incredible place and it has been a true privilege to be a part of this team for the past 16+ years,” added Schell. “I am so thankful to Jimmy Pitaro and Bob Iger for their creative leadership and to my remarkable colleagues across ESPN whose work inspires and entertains sports fans every single day. As I launch this new production company, I am excited to transition back to a role where I can more directly tell stories and I couldn’t think of a better way to get started than continuing to work on 30 for 30 with Jimmy and ESPN.”

On Monday, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro announced plans for a new management structure at the network. The full list can be found here. Below are some of the key names involved and the key responsibilities they’ll be assuming as part of the network’s leadership team.

Burke Magnus, will become the Executive Vice President, Programming & Original Content taking over for Schell. In addition to continuing to acquire and schedule programming, Mangus will also oversee original content creation for ESPN and ESPN+.

Kevin Merida continues as Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. Merida will manage all aspects of the brand and partner with the Disney General Entertainment and Hulu teams to explore future growth opportunities.

Laura Gentile becomes Senior Vice President, Marketing & Social Media, handling creative marketing for the ESPN brand, including all shows, special events, and platforms. She will also assume responsibility for the network’s social media content. Ryan Spoon previously handled those duties before exiting for BetGM.

Norby Williamson will be involved as Executive Vice President and Executive Editor. Williamson will co-lead ESPN’s production area, including its flagship SportsCenterGet Up and First Take studio shows and event production, as well as cross-platform journalism and storytelling.

Rob King will be responsible for the company’s overall journalistic direction as the network’s Senior Vice President, Editor-At-Large. King’s role includes working closely with leaders across ESPN Films and original content, digital content, social media, multi-platform journalism and storytelling and global content. He will also advise ESPN and its senior leadership team on editorial issues.

Stephanie Druley will serve as Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production, co-leading ESPN’s production area, including Monday Night Football, college football, NBA, studio and event production.

Tina Thornton will be upped to Vice President of Content Operations. She will assume many of Marklay’s duties including overseeing ESPN’s remote operations and events, Creative Works and Creative Services, ESPN Synergy, and the ESPN Next program.

“Going forward, our newly-formed senior leadership group is poised to drive future success,” Pitaro said in a press release. “The talented team is comprised of gifted and respected leaders. They are diverse thinkers who bring a collaborative spirit and a necessary focus on future strategy. I’m thrilled to have them as colleagues.”

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ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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Michael Smith Joining Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football Studio Coverage

“It’s a full-circle moment. It’s back to my roots in many respects. I always wanted to be a part of a national telecast … and here I am,” said Smith.

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Michael Smith is joining Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football coverage, he tells USA Today.

“It’s a full-circle moment. It’s back to my roots in many respects. I always wanted to be a part of a national telecast … and here I am,” said Smith.

He will work as a “news analyst” for the streaming platform’s studio show, a role he similarly held for ESPN‘s NFL Sunday Countdown. Former Countdown producer Amina Hussein is the head of on-air sports talent development for Prime.

Smith becomes the latest of a growing cast Prime Video has assembled for Thursday Night Football coverage. Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will work in the broadcast booth, Kaylee Hartung will work the sidelines, Charissa Thompson will anchor the studio show with Tony Gonzalez, Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib, and Andrew Whitworth, and Taylor Rooks will work as a feature reporter. Dude Perfect, a comedy group famous for social media “trick shot videos”, will reportedly offer a Manningcast-style alternate broadcast.

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