John Wildhack ’80
Executive Vice President of Program Acquisitions and Strategy, ESPN

John Wildhack has served as ESPN’s executive vice president for program acquisitions and strategy since 2007. As the top programmer in the company, he oversees all rights negotiations and manages relationships with rightsholders for all ESPN entities, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN on ABC, ESPN International, ESPN Radio,,, ESPN Mobile Properties, print and more.

Wildhack joined ESPN as a production assistant in 1980. He was promoted to associate producer, to senior associate producer and then to producer. He served as coordinating producer of ESPN’s Sunday Night NFL and NFL Draft telecasts and produced NFL games for the network. In addition to the NFL, Wildhack’s numerous production credits include college football, NCAA basketball, boxing, golf and auto racing.

He also served as ESPN’s director of event productions, vice president and senior vice president of remote production, senior vice president of programming and senior vice president for programming acquisitions and strategy. From 2000 until 2005, his primary focus was acquisitions for ESPN and ESPN2 and the development of ESPN Classic and ESPN Regional Television (ERT). He has also managed programming for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic.

His efforts have been integral in the increase of live and original programming on ESPN and ESPN2—close to 10,000 hours. Under his direction, the evolution of ESPN2’s programming lineup included an extensive commitment to auto racing, college football and basketball, and ESPN2 became the fastest growing network of the 1990s. Wildhack has also been directly involved in the renewal and expansion of many ESPN and ESPN2 programming agreements including NFL, MLB, PGA Tour and a variety of major college conferences.

Wildhack holds the distinction of producing ESPN’s first live NFL game, Chicago at Miami (August 1987), and its first live regular-season college football game, Brigham Young vs. Pittsburgh (September 1984).

He is a 1980 graduate of the Newhouse School.

<<back to participants