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Iger to ESPN employees: “The brand is more valuable than ever before”

Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro address 2018 ESPN Employee Town Hall

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger speaks during the 2018 ESPN Employee Town Hall. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

BRISTOL, Conn. – ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro welcomed Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger to ESPN’s headquarters today for an ESPN Employee Town Hall where the company’s priorities were presented.

President Jimmy Pitaro speaks during the 2018 ESPN Employee Town Hall.
(Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images)

“[To Disney], ESPN is important on many different levels – past, present, future,” Iger said. “I happen to believe today the brand is more valuable than ever before and we are a collection of great brands.

“When I look at ESPN, it’s one of the most valuable brands the company has,” he said. “I happen to believe that this brand will stand the test of time.”

Part of Iger’s belief rests within the early success of ESPN+, which he said, “We’re thrilled with what we’ve achieved now, but we are only in the first inning.”

Iger also stressed the quality of ESPN’s storytelling and cited one recent example that resonated deeply with him.

“I saw the E:60 piece on Declan Sullivan, the young man who was killed at Notre Dame,” Iger said. “I hadn’t seen that piece before and it was an incredible story. I see a lot of those on ESPN. That’s just one example. That piece touched my heart. A story is at its most powerful, I think, when it touches somebody’s heart.”

Following a wide-ranging conversation between Pitaro and Iger, the ESPN president introduced the four business priorities – Direct to Consumer, Audience Expansion, Quality Storytelling & Programming and Innovation – sharing his vision for each while interspersing some highlights from his first eight months as ESPN President.

“We are on a very, very good path right now,” Pitaro said. “I could not be more pleased with the direction that our business is heading in and we have an amazing opportunity together.”

The two-hour meeting, attended in-person by over 500 employees was also streamed internationally to all of ESPN’s outer offices. With the first portion of the meeting focusing on Pitaro’s four priorities, the second half featured Around the Horn host Tony Reali leading several executives through an ATH-inspired discussion focusing on the overall ESPN business.

Joining Reali on stage were Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus; Executive Vice President, Content, Connor Schell; Senior Vice President, Production & the Office of the President Tina Thornton; Executive Vice President, Disney & ESPN Affiliate Sales & Marketing Justin Connolly; Senior Vice President Multimedia Sales Wendell Scott; and Senior Vice President Marketing, Laura Gentile.

Shelby L. Lacy produced the video.

Around the Horn host Tony Reali (standing) conducts a special edition of ESPN’s debate show with executives during the 2018 ESPN Employee Town Hall.