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ESPN’s Head of Content Connor Schell to Exit to Form Production Company

Schell co-created the ”30 for 30“ franchise and was one of Jimmy Pitaro’s top lieutenants

Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content, is leaving the company at the end of the year, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

Schell’s departure is not said to be related to the massive job cuts at ESPN last week, the individual continued. Schell is leaving to start his own production company. ESPN declined to comment.

Schell was in charge of all-non sports programming and was instrumental in the network’s documentary content. He is best known for co-creating ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary franchise with Bill Simmons, and was an executive producer on “O.J.: Made in America” and “The Last Dance.” He was one of the network’s top lieutenants under Jimmy Pitaro, who serves as chairman of ESPN and other sports content at Disney, alongside Burke Magnus, who headed up programming and scheduling.

Last week, ESPN said it would be laying off 300 staffers and scrapping 200 open positions in an effort to shift more resources toward ESPN’s direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital content and “continued innovative television experiences.”

“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports,” Pitaro said in a Nov. 5 memo. “The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions. In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm.”

News of Schell’s departure was first reported by the New York Post.