Senior Vice President, Content Operations and Strategy
After nearly two decades as a leader in ESPN’s Programming Department, Julie Sobieski joined the newly formed ESPN Business Operations and Content Strategy group in the fall of 2017 as vice president, content business operations and strategy; she was promoted to senior vice president in September 2019. She was previously ESPN’s vice president, league sports programming, a position she was promoted to in 2013. In 2016, she was honored as a SportsBusiness Daily/Global/Journal “Forty Under 40” recipient.
In the Business Operations and Content Strategy group, Sobieski leads a team focusing on the overall efficiency and operations of ESPN’s Content organization while developing future content opportunities. She serves as the primary point person for the Content organization across ESPN departments and Disney’s DTCI division. She helps shape ESPN’s overall content strategy and align the company’s collective resources as she did around the launch of ESPN+. Her responsibilities also include oversight of the business affairs function handling division deal-making, co-production, content business negotiation and best practices. In December 2018 she added oversight of mulitmedia sponsorship integration, which aligns content, business and revenue priorities.
In her previous role, she was one of ESPN’s core programming executives responsible for the overall direction of ESPN’s content across platforms and responsible for strategic planning and oversight of the day-to-day management of ESPN’s business relationship with the National Basketball Association; Major League Baseball; motorsports including NASCAR, the IndyCar Series and NHRA; and Little League Baseball.
In 2014, Sobieski led ESPN’s negotiations for a nine-year, multiplatform agreement with the National Basketball Association, beginning with the 2016-17 season and continuing through 2024-25. In addition to retaining the NBA Finals on ABC, the deal included additional regular season games and more exclusive regular-season windows, increased team appearances to showcase the most compelling matchups and additional hours of NBA content on linear and digital platforms to generate a significant year-round presence for the NBA on ESPN. She also led in the creation of NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC, the first prime-time NBA weekend series on broadcast television, which debuted on January 23, 2016. Additionally, the agreement established a framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive equity interest. The deal also included expanded rights for ESPN International, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Audio, increased highlights usage rights across all platforms and additional rights to Women’s National Basketball Association, NBA Summer League and NBA D-League games.
Similarly, Sobieski had spearheaded ESPN’s negotiations with Major League Baseball in 2012, resulting in an eight-year multiplatform rights extension – effective 2014 through 2022. The deal assures a more than 30-year relationship between ESPN and MLB, one of the longest between a network and a league. Through Sobieski’s creativity, progressive thinking and 360-degree vision of ESPN, the network significantly increased its already robust MLB portfolio, resulting in the rights to an annual Wild Card game, 10 additional regular-season games, greatly increased highlight rights across ESPN digital platforms and authenticated feeds and dramatically more studio programming hours.
In addition to her programming responsibilities, Sobieski was elected to champion “ESPN Women,” the company’s employee resource group charged with striving to make ESPN the premier organization for women in sports, media and business.
While in programming, Sobieski also has been directly involved with a wide variety of areas including tennis (WTA, ATP, USTA, the French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon); horse racing (including the Triple Crown, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup); ESPN outdoors and setting the programming strategy for ESPN2.
Sobieski joined ESPN as an intern in 1998 and has quickly elevated through the ranks of the company’s programming department. Sobieski’s steady rise included being appointed program planning coordinator in 1999, program manager in 2000, director, programming and acquisitions in 2002 and vice president, programming and acquisitions in 2007.
Sobieski was graduated from Springfield (Mass.) College in 1999 with a bachelor of science degree including a major in general studies and a double minor in biology/chemistry and business administration with a concentration in sports management.