Everyone today has been talking about Chase Carey and Ross Brawn, but there’s a third party in F1’s new management: Sean Bratches. He’s a 56-year-old American who was born in Berlin but grew up in affluent White Plains, New York.
A keen sportsman he was offered a place at the Rochester Institute of Technology to play lacrosse and hockey and to study for a BA degree in Business Administration. He first became interested in TV advertising sales as his cousin’s husband was in the business and doing very well and so he decided to join Storer Communications, selling advertising for its seven TV stations. The firm sold its television assets in 1987 and Bratches joined the fledgling ESPN sports network the following year, being hired by a manager called George Bodenheimer. The company was then owned by ABC and was run by CEO Roger Werner, before he departed to set up the rival Speedvision. The channel was then led by Steve Bornstein but he soon left to become head of ABC Sports and later head of ABC itself. The Walt Disney Company bought ABC in the same era and Bodenheimer became the CEO.
Bratches was soon an Executive Vice President and became head of sales & marketing in October 2005. In the years that followed he was the push behind ESPN’s push into online services, introducing innovative distribution models, such as WatchESPN, an app that allowed pay TV customers to stream the network’s programming over the Web. He was also important in Disney’s move to make ESPN and other channels available through the Sling TV web service. He was also one of the first to recognise the importance of eSports and signed a multi-million dollar contract with Major League Gaming, as long ago as 2008, to provide coverage of e-sports.
Bratches left ESPN in 2015.