“A month after John Skipper’s abrupt resignation as president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, a surprising name has entered the field of potential successors: CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker,” writes the estimable Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.
The story also says “multiple sources close to Zucker confirmed to Deadline that he has had conversations for the top job at the sports giant.”
Andreeva’s piece was published on Friday afternoon, Jan. 19. On Friday evening the L.A. Times’ Stephen Battaglio wrote that according to a CNN spokesperson, “Jeff loves his job at CNN and has no interest in running ESPN.”
That statement doesn’t address the reported claim that Zucker has had conversations at some point about the ESPN job.
Back in November, in an interview before the Oxford Union Society Zucker was asked, “Where do you see your future heading?”
Here’s Zucker’s reply [edited by TVWeek]: “I don’t know. I’ve never really known where I was going next. I spent 25 years at NBC and now five years at CNN….I never certainly intended to stay at NBC for 25 years….I never had a game plan of what I was going to do. It’s the same thing now. Listen, I’ve had five great years at CNN. I’ve loved it. I don’t really have a game plan as to how long that goes or what comes next. For the time being I’m really happy and content to be at CNN.”
The Deadline story also notes, “There have been internal and external candidates rumored to be candidates for the [ESPN] job in the past month including ESPN EVPs Connor Schell and Justin Connolly, and Consumer Products and Interactive Media Chairman James Pitaro, who is well regarded internally and previously oversaw the development of Yahoo Sports. Outside candidates that have been talked about include Turner Broadcasting president David Levy.”
(speaking before the Oxford Union Society in November, 2017)