Thursday, the Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek made his first visit to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., some 14 months after he was originally scheduled to be introduced to the sprawling headquarters where ESPN was founded in 1979.
Chapek toured the campus, meeting with ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro, senior leaders and extending heartfelt thanks to some of the employees who kept ESPN running – and serving sports fans – throughout the pandemic.
“I’m a big ‘challenge the status quo’ guy,” Chapek said. “But even I was surprised at how resilient and resourceful our teams can be. The folks in our broadcast business were amazing. How you all found a way to not only be on air but to make the best of the slim pickings you had was just incredible. And what I learned was that if you have the right people and you give them the worst circumstances you can still succeed.”
Chapek, who was scheduled to visit Bristol in March 2020 but had his travel plans cancelled with the outbreak of COVID-19, also remarked on the role of sports in Disney’s future.
“Here’s the thing about sports and news,” he said. “They’re very unique and that’s a good thing for us. It’s an important strategic advantage we have.”
Both Chapek and Pitaro addressed ESPN employees, something both did in January, when Chapek joined employees remotely during the division’s annual Town Hall.