Vanguard Awards: Justin Connolly

Executive VP, Affiliate Sales & Marketing, Disney & ESPN Media Networks

Justin Connolly, executive vice president, affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks, oversees all aspects of domestic distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for 16 networks and related WATCH authenticated products, HDTV, video-on-demand, and interactive television, as well as retransmission- consent agreements for The Walt Disney Co.’s eight ABC-owned stations.

Most recently, Connolly was senior vice president, college networks, where he was responsible for setting the strategic direction, overseeing content acquisition and scheduling, and working collaboratively with all ESPN business units to maximize distribution, viewership and revenue opportunities for Longhorn Network and SEC Network. Under his direction, SEC Network was the most successful network launch in cable history.

Prior to his work with the college networks, he served as senior vice president, national accounts for Disney & ESPN Media Networks. He was responsible for all domestic distribution and licensing efforts for The Walt Disney Co.’s linear networks, broadband and VOD content within the Media Networks Group. His team worked to negotiate distribution agreements with all of the cable, satellite and IPTV distributors throughout the country. Connolly also worked to develop and implement sales strategies for all of the domestic linear networks as well as the new digital media products and services.

Since joining ESPN in 2003, Connolly has served in various capacities including director of strategy and operations, where he helped ESPN with its long-term affiliate negotiations. He was promoted to vice president, distribution strategy in 2004, where his duties included the development of pricing and packaging strategies while also participating in negotiating distribution agreements involving Disney and ESPN assets.

Prior to joining ESPN, Connolly worked in the corporate finance group for the Disney corporate treasury department in Burbank, Calif.

A Boston native, Connolly graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1998. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2003.