WWE hires former ESPN 'embrace debate' exec Jamie Horowitz to oversee digital content

·3 min read

WWE announced on Tuesday that sports media exec Jamie Horowitz has been hired to oversee development and digital content, effective immediately. In his new role, he'll be responsible for scripted and unscripted programs for digital and social media, which is taking on more importance at WWE since WWE Network was moved over to NBC's digital platform, Peacock. 

If the name Jamie Horowitz is familiar to you, it's probably because he's made quite a mark on the sports media industry over the last decade. He's responsible for ESPN's "embrace debate" philosophy, which introduced the trend of contrarian sports yelling with shows like "First Take" and "SportsNation." 

'Embrace debate'

Horowitz is responsible for the makeover of "First Take" in 2012, which focused entirely on sports debate, and featured everyone's favorite contrarian sports yellers, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. The new debate-embracing version of "First Take" was wildly successful, and marked a high point in Horowitz's career.

His next move ended in disaster. Horowitz left ESPN in 2014 to work at NBC, specifically to overhaul "Today," which was losing to "Good Morning America" in the ratings. He was fired just 78 days later, after his plan for "Today" rubbed everyone — including the show's hosts, which Horowitz intended to fire — the wrong way. 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 24:  Jamie Horowitz, VP at ESPN, speaks onstage during the Olbermann panel at the ESPN portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Jamie Horowitz, WWE's new EVP of development and digital programming, has had a controversial career. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Horowitz joined Fox Sports in April 2015 to undertake another massive overhaul, this time of Fox Sports, FS1 and FS2. He again focused on sports debate as the central idea, and hired more famous sports yellers like Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowherd. Bayless also eventually joined Horowitz at Fox Sports after leaving ESPN in 2016.

"Pivot to video" was part of Horowitz's Fox Sports makeover, which involved a de-emphasis on written content and led to massive layoffs (and financial losses) at FoxSports.com. A huge round of layoffs was announced just one week before Horowitz was fired in July 2017 amid a sexual harassment probe. Horowitz denied all allegations, and his unceremonious firing didn't stop him from getting a major position overseeing digital programming at DAZN in 2018.

Horowitz's history is well known within the industry, and it has some wondering why WWE would hire someone with such a controversial past. 

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