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Executive Profile: Russell Wolff, ESPN International

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 9:03 PM, under , , ,

Russell Wolff is the Executive Vice President & Managing Director of ESPN International. This is his profile as published by the ESPN Networks. Last updated Jan 7, 2008.

Russell Wolff was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president in November 2004. He has served as managing director of ESPN International since June 2002. He is based in ESPN International’s New York City headquarters and reports directly to George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports.

Wolff is fully responsible for all of ESPN’s international businesses, which include partial or whole ownership of 30 networks televised outside of the United States, as well as radio businesses in 14 countries and several popular sports websites. Wolff also overseas a variety of ancillary international businesses including ESPN The Magazine in China, consumer products, wireless initiatives, and international X Games events. Under Wolff’s guidance, the distribution of ESPN programming and branded products outside the US has grown to reach an estimated 168 million households in 192 countries and territories worldwide.

In his role, Wolff also represents ESPN’s interests in a variety of joint ventures including ESPN Star Sports in Asia, ESPN Classic Sport in Europe, CTV Specialty Television, Inc. in Canada, and Sports-i ESPN in Japan.

Among his accomplishments with ESPN, Wolff spearheaded a project to establish ESPN’s first branded television network in Europe. His efforts produced ESPN Classic Sport, a new network of European sports channels dedicated to showcasing the greatest moments in sports history. ESPN Classic Sport launched in 2002 and today offers dedicated French, Italian, and English feeds to more than 15 million households in 40 countries across Europe. In October 2004, ESPN Classic Sport further established itself in Europe with the channel’s debut on KDG, Germany’s largest cable operator.

In September 2002, Wolff was appointed by Bodenheimer to lead the effort to launch ESPN Deportes, the company’s 24-hour Spanish-language network in the U.S. Since launching in January 2004, ESPN Deportes has secured distribution agreements with seven of the ten largest cable operators in the U.S..

Wolff first joined ESPN International in 1997 as vice president, managing the company’s business interests in the Pacific Rim. In 1998, he joined ESPN Star Sports, as vice president of programming and event management and was later promoted to senior vice president. Wolff returned to ESPN in 2000 as senior vice president to manage a diverse portfolio of international activities, including programming, marketing, and the company’s businesses in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

After graduating from Dartmouth College with an A.B. degree in 1989, Wolff began his career at the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago (1989-1992). Shortly afterwards, he returned to Dartmouth and received his M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. From 1994 to 1997, he worked at MTV Networks as director, market development, handling affiliate sales and marketing to alternative distributors for MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and Nick at Nite’s TV Land.

Wolff is currently the chairman of the board of ESPN STAR Sports, and also serves on the boards of CTV Specialty Television, Inc., ESPN Classic Sport, and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He also serves as an advisor on the television council of FIBA, the International Basketball Federation.

Wolff frequently returns to Dartmouth as a guest speaker.

Photograph courtesy of the ESPN Networks.

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