Longtime ESPN ad sales executive Sean Bratches will leave the company at the end of 2015 as executive vice president of sales and marketing, the network announced Monday.
Bratches, who has spearheaded the sports network’s ad sales efforts since being named to the position in 2005, will serve in an advisory capacity to ESPN until his departure becomes official, according to network officials.
Bratches, who first joined ESPN in 1988 as an account executive in affiliate marketing, said in a statement that “the time just felt right to pursue my next adventure.”
Bratches has negotiated several major affiliation and digital deals for ESPN, which commands the highest licensing fees among cable networks within the industry. In 2003, Bratches was the catalyst behind securing distribution of ESPN HD, which at the time was considered the tipping point for the proliferation and adoption of high definition television. In 2010, Bratches' team introduced the first live, streaming cable channels online and in mobile devices through WatchESPN.
ESPN's emerging networks and platforms like WatchESPN, ESPN3 and the SEC Network have achieved record-setting growth under his direction.
ESPN President John Skipper said of Bratches’ departure: "Sean is an extremely well-respected and admired industry visionary whose contributions to ESPN's success cannot be overstated. We have all greatly appreciated his energy, integrity and service to ESPN, our employees and our industry. He told me recently he wants to take on new challenges, after achieving so much with us -- an understandable goal given his vision, business savvy and relentlessly positive impact on people. He will certainly be missed, but through his efforts we are blessed with a wealth of executives well-qualified to keep ESPN moving forward."
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