Since the early December resignation of ESPN head John Skipper, numerous possible candidates for a replacement have been discussed. The newest addition to that list is CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who multiple outlets claim has been in talks with Disney regarding the position. According to CNN, Zucker is staying where he is.
Initially reported by Deadline and then later backed up by The Hollywood Reporter and others, the likelihood of Zucker seriously considering the position is unknown. Although media outlets say sources close to the matter confirm the talks took place, they don’t reference any interactions between Zucker and Disney CEO Bob Iger or other company leaders. The Hollywood Reporter directly states, “Zucker has had no direct conversations with Disney CEO Robert Iger… He reportedly signed a lengthy contract extension with CNN last year.”
CNN Money says that multiple sources confirmed that talks did take place, but whether they were initiated by Disney or Zucker is unknown. After the news of talks was reported, CNN released a statement saying, “Jeff loves his job at CNN, and has no interest in running ESPN.”
Disney has been looking for a potential head of ESPN since late last year, when then-president John Skipper resigned his position due to substance addiction issues. Since then, George Bodenheimer has served as acting chairman. Bodenheimer has previously served as ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011 and executive chairman until 2014. Speculation has surrounded many potential replacements, both internal and external, but no clear choice has presented itself yet.
Image of Jeff Zucker: By David Shankbone (Jeff Zucker Shankbone 2010 NYC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons