President, Media Distribution Disney & ESPN Media Networks
As president of Media Distribution for The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International (DTCI) segment, Justin Connolly oversees all aspects of media sales and channel distribution for Disney’s studios and media networks including affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations; content program sales and operations; syndication sales and marketing; and in-home entertainment.
Connolly and his team work to maximize Disney’s opportunities in media markets by managing all aspects of North American distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all the services provided by Disney and ESPN media networks including, among other services: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, and related WATCH, HDTV, video-on-demand, the ABC Affiliate Relations and Marketing team, and interactive television and retransmission consent agreements for The Walt Disney Company’s eight-owned ABC stations.
To ensure alignment between Disney’s content licensing and direct-to-consumer priorities, Connolly has final approval on all content sales agreements. He works closely with DTCI’s international content sales teams to drive results and ensure effective execution of the Company’s media distribution strategies around the world for Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Animation, Disneynature, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, National Geographic, FX Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, WABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.
He spearheads global app distribution deals for The Walt Disney Company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services – including Disney+, ESPN+, and Movies Anywhere. Connolly is also responsible for the distribution of film and television programming via home entertainment, broadcasting platforms, digital platforms, SVOD, and pay networks.
Connolly came to DTCI in July 2019 from Media Networks where he was executive vice president, affiliate sales and marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks – overseeing all aspects of domestic distribution, affiliate marketing and affiliate-related business operations for all the services provided by Disney and ESPN media networks. In June 2017, he added oversight of ESPN’s strategy and business development teams to his portfolio.
Previously, Connolly served as senior vice president, college networks, and was responsible for setting the strategic direction, overseeing content acquisition and scheduling, and working collaboratively with all ESPN business units to maximize distribution, viewership and revenue opportunities for Longhorn Network and SEC Network. Under his direction, SEC Network was the most successful network launch in cable history. Before working with the college networks, Connolly served as senior vice president, national accounts for Disney & ESPN Media Networks. He was responsible for all domestic distribution and licensing efforts for The Walt Disney Company’s linear networks, broadband and VOD content within the Media Networks Group.
He joined ESPN in 2003 and served in various capacities including director, ESPN strategy and operations where he helped ESPN with its long-term affiliate negotiations. In August 2004 he was promoted to vice president, distribution strategy.
Prior to joining ESPN, Connolly worked in the corporate finance group for The Walt Disney Company’s corporate treasury department in Burbank, Calif.
Connolly, a Boston native and Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame inductee, graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1998 and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2003.