Beginning at midmonth, ESPN president George Bodenheimer's business card will
also include the title of president of ABC Sports.
Bodenheimer will add the duties of Howard Katz to his responsibilities March
14 when the latter leaves the company to pursue other interests. Katz became
head of ABC Sports in March 1999 following a six-year stint at ESPN.
Katz succeeded Steve Bornstein, who also held the dual titles of president of ABC Sports and ESPN for a period.
In his dual capacity, Bodenheimer will continue to report to Robert Iger,
president and chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Co.
ABC Sports and ESPN will remain separate operations within Disney, the
company said. Overall management, though, of ABC Sports will continue to
function as part of the ABC Television Network.
Sports sales at ABC, save for some of Monday Night Football in
primetime, has fallen under the umbrella of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing
and Sales, the outfit headed by Ed Erhardt.
During a conference call, Bodenheimer and ABC Television Network president
Alex Wallau emphasized that the organizations would remain separate entities.
"George recognizes that broadcast is a distinct business. He recognizes the
challenge of serving ABC Sports' audience versus ESPN's," Wallau said.
Bodenheimer said initially he "would spend a lot of time becoming even more
familiar with ABC Sports." He added that he has already worked with many of its
executives and would come to know more of them.
Bodenheimer left the door ajar for a new structure, noting that he would meet
with "executives inside and outside of the company to find the best way to
Both Wallau and Bodenheimer talked about the advantages of enhanced
coordination between the companies relative to cross-promotion, scheduling
flexibility in terms of overruns and rights negotiations.
As an example, they said executives from both networks worked closely on the
six-year, $2.4 billion National Basketball Association rights deal, finalized in
January 2002, which returned ABC and ESPN to professional-hardwood coverage this
season for the first time in decades.
Bodenheimer said ESPN and ABC, given their "experience and heritage," would
"like to get back" into the Olympic Games picture, given the right financial
situation. "This will make it easier for us to organize ourselves for major
rights acquisitions," he added.
Bodenheimer, who joined ESPN in 1981, became its president in October
Prior to his appointment at ABC Sports, Katz served as executive vice
president at ESPN, where he oversaw all remote and studio production for its
domestic and international activities, as well as the company's engineering and
His responsibilities encompassed ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, ESPN
Regional Television, ESPN Radio and ESPN International's worldwide networks.
Katz joined ESPN in May 1993 as senior vice president, production.
"George's record of success and innovation at ESPN and his familiarity with
ABC Sports make him uniquely suited to take on this role," Iger said in a
prepared statement. "This move will enhance the overall efficiency and
effectiveness at both TV-sports operations and, in particular, in our dealings
with sports leagues and other rights sellers."