>> An unexpected resignation Monday for one of Disney's top executives, John Skipper, President of ESPN and Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks announced he is leaving both posts citing a problem with substance abuse. Skipper's sudden departure catching many media watchers off guard. And it comes just after Disney struck a deal to buy movie and TV businesses from 21st Century Fox.
Reuters media correspondent Jessica Toonkel.>> ESPN has been struggling with subscriber declines. They've had a few rounds of layouts. They just laid off 150 people last month. So this comes at an uncertain time for ESPN. Meanwhile, their parent company just bought a large portion of assets from Fox just last week.
So executives there are probably feeling a little uncertain about their future. But at the same time, this is coming on the heels of Disney buying Fox assets, including their 22 regional sports networks, doubling down on sports. And they've said they're launching this direct to consumer video streaming platform, so maybe it's a good time to have fresh eyes to figure out their sports strategy.
>> Skipper's resignation comes right on the heels of a contract extension that was to keep him on at ESPN through 2021. In a statement, Skipper said, quote, I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I've decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, commended Skipper's candor and backed his decision. ESPN said in a statement that George Bodenheimer, who was ESPN's President for three years before Skipper, will take over as acting Chairman of the company for the next 90 days.