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Volume 20 No. 42
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Game Changers: Marie Donoghue

Donoghue’s work on ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” series
combines her love of film and sports.
Marie Donoghue
SVP, Global Strategy, Business Development and Business Affairs
Marie Donoghue would be part of a group like this based on her work in helping ESPN negotiate sports rights deals with the biggest professional leagues, including the NFL and MLB. But it’s her work in building some of ESPN’s newer businesses that fully shows the level of influence she has in Bristol.

Donoghue oversees ESPN Films and ESPN’s social media strategy, responsibilities that she says take up about half her time. Currently, that means guiding ESPN Films’ next releases for its “30 for 30” documentary series, which is ramping up again this  fall. And with social media, that means trying to figure out the best way to deal with a constantly changing medium.

“People are still trying to figure out how to make a lot of money on it,” Donoghue said.  

— John Ourand
  • Crowning professional achievement: NFL/ESPN Digital deal in March 2010. Several years in the making, it laid the rights groundwork for our overall NFL renewal in 2011.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: Mobile ESPN the business. Still, the innovative and forward-focused product is still paying dividends across our company.
  • What is the best advice youve ever received?: From a partner at my old law firm: “Nobody will remember if your work is an hour late. They will remember if it has mistakes.”
  • How would you describe effective business leadership?: To quote George Bodenheimer: Effective business leaders make people around them better.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: John Skipper. As he has been my boss for 11 years, I have been able to watch up close his dynamic leadership, compassionate management and unlimited intellectual curiosity.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is: No offseason at ESPN.


“Marie’s technological and business savvy, coupled with a keen intellect, make her contributions invaluable as we develop medium- and long-term strategy and create new businesses that allow us to grow.”

  • John Skipper, ESPN president