Longtime ESPN executive Russell Wolff has been named EVP and GM of ESPN+, the branded over-the-top video streaming service, it was announced Oct. 31 by Michael Paull, president, Disney Streaming Services, to whom Wolff will report.
In his new role Wolff will be responsible for managing ESPN+, which recently topped 1 million subscribers, in addition to collaborating on the overall management and commercialization of ESPN-branded digital products.
“His strong business acumen and exceptional leadership qualities make him the perfect leader to advance the growth of ESPN+ as we continue to evolve the service,” said Paull, a former senior executive at Amazon Prime Video.
Most recently, Wolff served as EVP and managing director, ESPN International, where he was responsible for all of ESPN’s international businesses, which grew to reach multiple countries and territories across all seven continents.
As part of his previous role, Wolff guided ESPN’s digital expansion around the world, including the launch of mobile, online and streaming platforms, helping it establish a position as the number one digital sports brand globally. He led ESPN’s digital media teams to grow their global digital media portfolio, which included more than a dozen localized editions of ESPN.com and the ESPN app, ESPNFC (global football vertical), ESPNCricinfo (global cricket vertical), ESPN’s streaming platforms (including WatchESPN) and multiple other digital initiatives.
He also was a key driver of ESPN’s continued growth and leadership in Latin America. Under his direction, ESPN’s offerings grew into a multimedia business that includes 13 television networks, the most diverse portfolio of programming and sports events, and the operation of production facilities and offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
Wolff first joined ESPN International in 1997 as vice president, managing the company’s business interests in the Pacific Rim. In 1998, he joined ESPN Star Sports, as VP of programming and event management and was later promoted to SVP. Wolff returned to ESPN in 2000 as SVP, overseeing programming, marketing, and the company’s businesses in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, Wolff began his career at the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago. Shortly afterwards, he returned to Dartmouth and received his M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. He will continue to lead ESPN’s involvement with the Special Olympics.