Disney Places ESPN International Chief Russell Wolff in Charge of ESPN+

By A.J. Katz 

Disney has named veteran ESPN executive Russell Wolff evp and general manager of ESPN’s direct-to-consumer product, ESPN+.

Wolff had most recently been evp and managing director of ESPN International, where he ran all of the network’s international businesses.

In addition to being responsible for managing ESPN+, Wolff is tasked with managing all ESPN-branded digital products.

Wolff’s new boss is Michael Paull, president of Disney Streaming Services (previously referred to as BAMTech Media).

“ESPN+ is off to a fantastic start as the fastest growing consumer sports streaming service in the market and Russell’s deep understanding of the ESPN brand and experience across all aspects of the media landscape will bring even more velocity to the service,” Paull said in a statement. “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.”

“ESPN+ is in the first inning of a very long game,” Wolff added. “There is a tremendous opportunity to grow the service and expand our position as the leading streaming service and provider of digital products for sports fans.”

ESPN+ launched on April 12 of this year, and was Disney’s first entry into the OTT space. The service, priced at $4.99 per month /$49.99 per year, gives subscribers access to live sports, some of which are broadcasts exclusive to ESPN+. The service also sports a robust library of original shows and series, including the super-popular 30 for 30 documentaries.

The product appears to be doing well so far. According to the network, ESPN+ surpassed 1 million subs in its first five months. That came after ESPN moved customers of its ESPN Insider subscription service to ESPN+ in August. According to the network, the addition of the ESPN Insider user base accounted for “a minority” of the ESPN+ audience.