Executive Vice President and General Manager, ESPN+
As executive vice president and general manager of ESPN+, Russell Wolff is responsible for leadership, management and oversight of all aspects of ESPN+, the industry-leading multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN.
In the role, Wolff works with the leadership teams at DTCI and ESPN to drive the ESPN+ business and grow its subscriber base. Wolff drives the collaboration across programming, product development, technology, content, finance and marketing teams in both business segments. He also works closely with teams in both DTCI and ESPN on the overall management and commercialization of ESPN-branded digital products globally.
ESPN+ is a foundational piece of The Walt Disney Company’s strategy to develop more direct relationships with consumers and provide them with the entertainment and sports content they want most, with greater choice, personalization and convenience than ever before. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ reached 2 million subscribers in less than a year and offers fans more than 10,000 live events, acclaimed original programming and an on-demand library.
Under Wolff’s leadership and direction, ESPN+ delivers a robust programming lineup to fans, including exclusive MLB, NHL, UFC and Top Rank Boxing events, domestic and international soccer, college sports, grand slam tennis, rugby, cricket and more, as well as acclaimed series featuring some of the biggest names in sports, exclusive studio shows, the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films and premium editorial content. Sports fans subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year). It is available as an integrated part of the ESPN App (on mobile and connected devices) and ESPN.com.
Prior to his current role, Wolff served as executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of ESPN’s international businesses, which included networks reaching more than 60 countries and territories across all seven continents and a global digital media portfolio, which included more than a dozen editions of ESPN.com and the ESPN app, ESPNCricinfo, several ESPN-branded streaming platforms and multiple other digital initiatives. In 2016, Wolff also added oversight of ESPN’s U.S. Hispanic business initiatives, including ESPN Deportes television, one of the leading Spanish-language sports cable networks serving Hispanics in the U.S.
Wolff led the company in developing innovative partnerships with key players in China, India and the UK, as well as playing an instrumental role in ESPN’s growth in Latin America — helping it become a leading multimedia business that includes 13 television networks, digital media, a diverse portfolio of sports programming and offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
Since 2014, Wolff has also guided ESPN’s programming and multimedia relationship with Special Olympics, including multiyear, multimedia deals for coverage of the the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria, the 2018 US Games in Seattle and the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Wolff first joined ESPN in 1997 as vice president, ESPN international, managing the company’s business interests in the Pacific Rim. In 1998, he joined ESPN Star Sports, as vice president of programming and event management and was later promoted to senior vice president. Wolff returned to ESPN in 2000 as senior vice president to manage programming, marketing, and the company’s businesses in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
After graduating from Dartmouth College with an A.B. degree in 1989, Wolff began his career at the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago (1989-1992). Shortly afterwards, he returned to Dartmouth and received his M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. From 1994 to 1997, he worked at MTV Networks as director, market development, handling affiliate sales and marketing to alternative distributors for MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and Nick at Nite’s TV Land.
Wolff currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Amos Tuck School of Business and previously served on the Dartmouth Alumni Council where he was President.
Russell and his wife, Patricia, have two sons.
ABOUT DISNEY’S DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER & INTERNATIONAL
Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment includes Disney’s international media operations stretching from Europe to Asia to Latin America and the Company’s direct-to-consumer streaming businesses, including the upcoming Disney+ service set to debut in the U.S. in late 2019 and ESPN+ which was launched in April 2018. DTCI also houses global advertising sales and ad technology for Disney media properties which include ABC, ESPN, Freeform, FX Networks, National Geographic, and the Disney Channels. The Company’s content sales operations—including global distribution of film and TV content to Disney+, Hulu and other third-party platforms, as well as Movies Anywhere—are also part of the Direct-to-Consumer and International business segment.