John Skipper, president of sports at TV giant ESPN, runs a corner of the Walt Disney Empire that has long been a star performer, and rarely a source of anxiety for Wall Street. Yet the mood among investors dramatically began to shift last August when Disney disclosed that ESPN had lost pay TV subscribers and dialed back profit projections for its media networks. That showed that even with its unrivaled sports rights and powerful position in the TV world, ESPN was vulnerable to the forces sweeping through media, as consumers cut the cable cord. John Skipper is front and center of two new Wall Street Journal reports today. The first is titled "ESPN's John Skipper Plays Offense on Cord-Cutting," which subscribers could read in full here. The second report titled "Deeper with ESPN's John Skipper on Apple, Sling and Sports Rights" is where Skipper brought Apple and Apple TV into conversation.
The WSJ directly asked John Skipper whether he thought that Apple had a path to being a player in the TV industry. Skipper felt that Apple is "creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports."
Skipper added that "We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions. We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them.
Mr. Skipper also noted that they've had ongoing discussions with Apple, saying that "I believe in 2016 there will be further announcements on other kinds of packages….that will get younger subscribers into the market."