Lynne Frank is to leave her post as ESPN’s managing director in Europe and will return to California for family reasons.
The former Turner executive took the iconic sports brand into live broadcasting in Europe after securing Premier League football coverage previously shown on Setanta. Around this she built a UK channel that from next season will also include FA Cup football and Premiership Rugby.
“The past five years with ESPN, and 17 years in London, have been a remarkable and rewarding time for me both personally and professionally,” said Frank. “ESPN is a tremendous company, with tremendous people, and I am extremely proud of the team, business and connection to fans that we are building. My focus and energy over the coming months will be to continue to strengthen each of those aspects.”
With the Premier League rights in the bag, Frank and her team had just six weeks to turn them into a marketable proposition, securing carriage on the UK’s major platforms. The precise number of ESPN’s subscriber base remains unknown, though the agreement with Virgin Media to place the channels in big basic, reflecting how the sports channel would be positioned in the United States has made a major contribution.
Although it has gained the FA Cup, the number of Premier League games shown by ESPN will reduce by half from the start of next season, putting pressure on subscribers that pay a premium to watch via Sky’s satellite platform.
Frank will stay on over the next few months while Russell Wolff, executive vice-president and managing director, ESPN International, will lead the hunt for her successor.