Burke Magnus was named executive vice president, programming and scheduling, in May 2015, having served as senior vice president, programming and acquisitions since January 2014, and senior vice president, college sports programming, since March 2008. In his new role, Magnus retains responsibility for all of the company’s program acquisitions and rights holder relations with content strategy and scheduling now reporting to him. He will continue to set the strategic direction of the company’s college sports content which includes acquiring, scheduling and programming college football, college basketball and NCAA Championship across the ESPN Networks. He was an integral part of securing long-term rights to the new College Football Playoff, the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls, the NCAA and some of the nation’s top college athletics conferences in the ACC, the Pac-12, the Big 12 and the SEC.
Magnus had served as vice president and general manager of ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, since November 2004 where he guided all programming, production and operations for ESPNU and led the inter-departmental team responsible for the growth and development of the network and related multi-media initiatives. Under his guidance, ESPNU significantly increased its subscriber count through its satellite and cable affiliation agreements and launched ESPNU.com. He also helped lay the groundwork for the launch of ESPNU HD (August 2008).
Magnus joined ESPN in 1995 as a program associate and in 1996 was promoted to program planner. In 1998, he advanced to program manager and later became director of brand management in 2000 (later changed to director, programming and acquisitions), primarily responsible for ESPN’s men’s college basketball programming and scheduling. From 2002-2004, Magnus was a member of the ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) team where he served as the project manager for several programs, including the biopic on the life of Dale Earnhardt entitled “3”, which was critically acclaimed and the second-highest rated movie of 2004 on ad-supported cable. Prior to joining ESPN, Magnus was an administration assistant for Soros Fund Management from 1994 to 1995.
Under Magnus’ direction, men’s college basketball ratings increased over multiple consecutive seasons and new initiatives such as Bracket Buster Saturday and College GameDay (basketball version) were introduced. In 2013, SI.com named Magnus the fifth “Most Powerful Person in College Sports”, just several months after being granted the National Football Foundation’s prestigious Legacy Award for his support and leadership in promoting college football. In 2006, Magnus was named to the distinguished Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40, honoring the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40.
Magnus graduated from Holy Cross in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in history and then received his master’s degree in sport management from the University of Massachusetts in 1994. During his time there, he served as a programming intern for CBS Sports from 1993 to 1994. In 2011, UMass awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the McCormack Department of Sport Management.