2020 HOSTS & FEATURED SPEAKERS
Senior Culture Writer, The Undefeated
Author, “She Persisted in Sports”
Executive Vice President, Talent & Casting, ABC Entertainment & Disney+
NBA All-Star & Olympic gold medalist
Founder, Together Rising, best-selling author, and activist
espnW Writer & ESPN Commentator, World Cup champion
Chairwoman and CEO, The Garcia Companies; Co-Founder, Seven Bucks Companies and Co-Owner, XFL
Senior Vice President, ESPN Marketing & Founder, espnW
Professional figure skater & Olympic medalist
Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Google
Senior Director, Strategic & Brand Insights, ESPN
Monday Night Countdown Host
Professional basketball player, WNBA Champion
Professional swimmer & Olympic gold medalist
Senior Vice President, Multiplatform Storytelling & Journalism, ESPN
Professional Trainer & Director of Strength and Endurance, LA Lakers
Executive Vice President, Global Insights & Strategy, Wasserman
Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content
Actress, filmmaker, and Angel City FC Co-Owner
Women's College Basketball and WNBA, Analyst and Sideline Reporter
Vice President, Marketing, Budweiser
Professional distance runner, NCAA Champion
espnW Columnist, ESPN Reporter and Radio Host, and Summit Co-Host
SportsCenter anchor and espnW Summit Host
Vice President, Women's Sports Programming, ESPN
Assistant Vice President, Sponsorships and Experiential Marketing, AT&T
College Sports Host & reporter, NBA Countdown Host
Soccer legend, best-selling author, and activist
Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content
James Pitaro was named Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content on October 12, 2020, as part of The Walt Disney Company’s strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment businesses, focusing on ESPN’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content for Disney’s cable channels, ESPN+, and ABC.
He was named ESPN president and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, on March 5, 2018, after serving eight years as a top Disney executive. In making the announcement, Bob Iger, then The Walt Disney Company chairman and chief executive officer, said, “Jimmy’s appointment was the result of more than 20 years spent at the intersection of technology, sports and media.”
Pitaro’s record of success leading businesses focused on consumer products, digital initiatives and sports made him the quintessential selection for ESPN at a pivotal point in its then 38-year history: a time of unprecedented technological advancements and rapidly changing consumer habits.
A visionary leader, Pitaro has identified and consistently communicated internally and externally four business priorities — Direct to Consumer, Innovation, Storytelling and Programming and Audience Expansion — to keep ESPN poised for future success.
In Pitaro’s time as President, his collaborative leadership style has led to impressive employee engagement and results, clearly evident in ESPN’s performance during the pandemic and social justice movement in 2020. The innovative and hard-working culture of ESPN led to moving up “The Last Dance,” which won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series; a ground-breaking collaboration with the NFL for a totally virtual NFL Draft telecast; critical contributions to the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando; the successful presentation of Major League Baseball’s “Fall Frenzy, and many other accomplishments in event and news programming. Under Pitaro, ESPN has reached creative new rights agreements with the NFL and UFC encompassing Disney-wide assets; achieved several ratings successes with a variety of shows and series, including ESPN’s signature show, SportsCenter, and Get Up; and fueled consistent growth since the April 2018 launch of ESPN+, Disney’s multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service.
From February 2016 through March 2018, Pitaro had served as chairman of Disney’s consumer products and interactive media division, the world’s largest licenser of consumer products. Among his many responsibilities, he oversaw the creation of branded digital and physical products, including a robust digital game slate. He and his team brought to life the characters and stories of four iconic brands – Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel – across toys, apparel, home goods, the world’s largest children’s publisher, hundreds of Disney store locations worldwide, the e-commerce destination ShopDisney, and the Disney Digital Network of social and digital channels that reach one out of every three U.S. social media accounts.
Pitaro originally joined The Walt Disney Company in 2010 as co-president, Disney Interactive, where he successfully led the turnaround of the digital media and gaming division.
Pitaro came to Disney from Yahoo, where he rose to head of media. He was in charge of, and set strategy and executed growth-driving initiatives for, Yahoo’s media properties, including Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Music. In 2009, he was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” annual list of top achievers in sports for his dynamic leadership and “breathless flurry of market-moving pacts” with major sports rightsholders and media companies. Pitaro was also honored as 2018’s Multichannel News Sports Executive of the Year. Sports Business Journal named him Sports Executive of the Year for 2019-20, citing that the biggest company in sports media continued to grow, highlighting the expansion of its linear footprint with ACC Network, growth from ESPN+, moving further into the sports betting space and continued aggressive moves in the digital and social arenas, which saw significant growth.
He serves on a variety of industry and charitable boards, including the NCTA, the Paley Center for Media, The V Foundation, The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, Pacer and CoachArt. Pitaro also serves as Co-Committee Chair of the March of Dimes, and is a Board Observer at Draft Kings. He is a member of the Cornell Athletic Alumni Advisory Committee.
Pitaro earned a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1991 from Cornell University. He earned his Juris Doctor from St. John’s Law School in 1994. After practicing law in New York for five years, he was named head of business affairs for Launch.com in 1999 before joining Yahoo.
A native of Westchester County, N.Y., Pitaro, 51, is ESPN’s eighth leader.