ESPN Research Chief Artie Bulgrin Retiring - Broadcasting & Cable

ESPN Research Chief Artie Bulgrin Retiring

Spent 21 years with sports network
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Artie Bulgrin, senior VP of global research and analytics at ESPN, announced he is retiring in May.

Bulgrin helped ESPN understand the sports fan and create a multiplatform approach to serve those fans.

"Artie has tirelessly served this company for 21 years and, in that time, he has been a sage and calming voice amid a sea of change in our industry. I know I am not alone in saying that he will be missed—not only for his counsel, but for his friendship—and for being an integral part of the fabric of this company," said John Skipper, president of ESPN.

Ed Erhardt, president of global sales & marketing at ESPN said "let's ask Artie" was a phrase frequently heard at the network.

"It relates to any decision that has been made at this company in the last 21 years. If you need to know where sports fans have been, or where they're going to go next, your best bet is to seek out the counsel of Artie Bulgrin. Because, in the media and marketing community, there are a few legendary names—and Bulgrin is at the top of that list," Erhardt said

"Artie invented cross media research and pushed the industry to be better," Erhardt added. "He is a tireless seeker of the truth and has advised every department across this company."

Bulgrin joined ESPN as VP of research and sales development in February 1996 and was promoted to senior VP in 2001. He assumed his current title in 2008. Before joining ESPN, he had been director of research and sales data services at Capital Cities/ABC National Television Sales since 1989.

Here is the text of Skipper's memo:

From John Skipper

It is hard to say goodbye to a legend, but it appears we will be doing just that at the end of May. Artie Bulgrin, a true titan of the industry and of this company, has decided to retire.

Artie has tirelessly served this company for 21 years and, in that time, he has been a sage and calming voice amid a sea of change in our industry. I know I am not alone in saying that he will be missed - not only for his counsel, but for his friendship - and for being an integral part of the fabric of this company.

Please join me in thanking him for all of his hard work. I wanted to also share a note Ed Erhardt penned about Artie, which articulates a few of the many contributions Artie made to ESPN over the years.

Sincerely, John

Here is the text of Erhardt's memo:

"Let's ask Artie." That is a phrase that has echoed through the halls and across the campus of ESPN as it relates to any decision that has been made at this company in the last 21 years. If you need to know where sports fans have been, or where they're going to go next, your best bet is to seek out the counsel of Artie Bulgrin. Because, in the media and marketing community, there are a few legendary names - and Bulgrin is at the top of that list.

With that in mind, it is with very mixed emotions that I inform you of Artie's decision to retire at the end of May.

I say "mixed" because while so many of us will miss his leadership, his insight and his friendship, we should also be very happy that a colleague we care so deeply for, who has worked so tirelessly and effectively to help build ESPN, has now decided to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

Artie invented cross media research and pushed the industry to be better. He is a tireless seeker of the truth and has advised every department across this company. I know I am not the only one who, after spending 30 minutes with Artie, has walked away saying, "well that all makes a lot more sense now."

All in, Artie has 37 years of unparalleled experience in the research field, first at Nielsen, then at ABC, and then at ESPN.  He has seen and done it all, and always selflessly with an eye on a singular goal: to help educate and guide us through tremendous change in the media industry. To say that his contributions to our success have been invaluable is an understatement.

When Artie first mentioned he was looking to retirement, it was with one clear caveat: to make sure that his team was in extraordinarily good shape to continue to serve the company. In recent weeks you have learned of Artie's complete realignment of his team - it was complicated and time intensive and it was merely the latest in a long line of examples of exceptional leadership not only at ESPN, but throughout the industry. To capture just a few of his many accomplishments:

Throughout his career, Artie has been a leader in new screens and new measurement. First at Nielsen where he helped with their push into PC based data applications for all clients and recently at ESPN, where he launched ESPNXP, which has become a model for cross-platform measurement across the industry.

He recognized early the importance of ESPN 'owning' the sports measurement marketplace and valuing the ESPN brand. He helped to establish the ESPN Sports Poll, the industry standard to monitor the popularity and avidity of sports fans. He also started ESPN All Day, Every Day, which is still the tool by which we quantify the total ESPN audience.

His group established Project Blueprint, a cross-platform measurement that became the basis for ComScore's current industrywide initiative.

Under Artie's leadership, we launched the ESPN Ad Lab eight years ago, which has since set the standard for state-of-the-art research that the rest of the industry is trying to follow.

He pushed Nielsen in their efforts to measure Out of Home - an effort in its early stages but which has already seen great success for us; Nielsen is now making it available to the entire industry.

He is a sought after speaker and board member for every meaningful research group in our industry - from the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) to the MRC (Media Ratings Council), to CIMM (The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) and beyond.
He's also been a thought leader in the press, burnishing our brand in the process.

I'd be remiss not to mention that Artie is a savant when it comes to knowledge of his favorite team, The New York Mets...and he plays a mean guitar.

And as if all of that is not enough, Artie has built a talented team and empowered them to be curious and innovative - two areas where they have had tremendous success. I think any manager would agree that there is no greater legacy.

Additionally, Artie has provided incredibly valuable input as to a succession plan and will be involved in that process. Thankfully, we will have him with us for a few more months as we seek his successor, which will give us all time to personally thank and congratulate him on a Hall of Fame career.

Ed

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