ESPN promotes Berson, Wildhack

David Berson and John Wildhack, who jointly oversee ESPN’s programming department, have each been promoted to executive vice president. They will continue to report to John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. Wildhack’s new title is executive vice president, programming and acquisitions; he had been senior vice president, programming and acquisitions strategy since October 2005. Berson’s new title is executive vice president, program planning and development; he had been senior vice president, program planning and development since October 2005.

Wildhack will continue to oversee all rights negotiations and league relationships for all ESPN domestic television networks and ESPN on ABC sports programming. In the past year, he has led ESPN through a number of successful major negotiations, solidifying the company’s position in several significant sport categories and including the acquisition of an outstanding collection of multimedia rights. Long-term deals with the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, MLS, the Big Ten, Big East and Arena Football have secured ESPN’s core event lineup well into the next decade.

With this promotion, Berson adds oversight of ESPN Original Entertainment, the division responsible for creating all of ESPN’s original programming, plus the X Games and The ESPY Awards. He will continue to oversee all strategic program planning for ESPN and ABC sports programming, with direct responsibility for maximizing the company’s wide array of event, studio and original programming. In 2006, his leadership was instrumental in ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS each recording record viewership.

Wildhack joined ESPN as a production assistant in 1980 directly after graduating from Syracuse University and rose quickly in remote production. He was the producer for ESPN’s first live college football game (Brigham Young at Pittsburgh, September 1984) and first NFL game (Chicago at Miami, August 1987). Ultimately, he became senior vice president, remote production in 1993. He has been a senior vice president in programming since 1994.

Berson joined ESPN in 1994 in the programming department after graduating from the University of Michigan. From 1996 – 2001, he worked in various capacities in affiliate sales and marketing and business development. He then re-joined the programming department as vice president, program planning and promotion.