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FiveThirtyEight Plans To Stick Around For a While

Jason Barrett



When ESPN turned out the lights on Grantland last fall, one of the big questions was how long it would be until FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s data journalism outfit, followed Grantland out the door. After all, the metrics-focused site was just as much of an odd fit within the sports media empire.

But, two years after its launch, FiveThirtyEight is growing both its traffic and headcount — and says that ESPN has every interest in keeping it around. Its editorial staff is now at 43, and it’s pushing out 10 stories a day, with plans to double that number this year.

Managing editor David Firestone pointed to FiveThirtyEight’s headcount, which increased by 17 people in the past year. Three of those additions were to the site’s video team, which is helping FiveThirtyEight with short-form clips, such as “The Dean Scream,” a 10-minute exploration of Howard Dean’s campaign-ending yawp in 2004.

On that front, FiveThirtyEight seems to realize it can’t live off politics coverage alone, especially after the presidential election. So in addition to politics and sports, it’s also applied its formula to cover The Oscars, Fandango’s Rotten Tomatoes deal and Harper Lee. It’s also building out its science and health coverage (it hired The New York Times Magazine science columnist Maggie Koerth-Baker this week). FiveThirtyEight even plans to venture into eSports coverage later this year.


The bigger nagging question, though, is how long ESPN’s support for FiveThirtyEight will last. While the company said that it was “totally committed” to FiveThirtyEight, ESPN itself is in a bit of a rough patch. In Disney’s last quarter, ESPN’s unit, which also includes the Disney Channels and ABC, posted a 5.6 percent decline in operating income, thanks to subscriber declines and higher programming costs. It’s going to be hard for ESPN to justify keeping something like FiveThirtyEight around if it’s not generating revenue.

“They have to support themselves, because ESPN is not going to he happy about losing money anywhere,” said Seth Alpert, managing director at advisory firm AdMedia Partners, adding that FiveThirtyEight already seems to be further along, monetization-wise, than Grantland was when ESPN pulled the plug.


“Grantland had some issues after [founder Bill] Simmons left. There was some tension there, but that’s not the situation here,” said Firestone, who said that the site has a “great” relationship with ESPN. “I know people looked at Grantland and said something similar would happen to us, but I don’t think there’s any sign of that. Everyone’s committed to this for the long haul.”

To read the rest of the article visit Digiday where it was originally published


Sports TV News

Notre Dame AD: NBC Deal With Big Ten is “Perfect” For Irish

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said.



Jack Swarbrick

While not official, there has been strong reporting that the Big Ten conference has decided which broadcast entities would be awarded media rights for their football and basketball games. One of those partners appears to be NBC who also has a partnership with Notre Dame thru 2025.

On Wedneday, Notre Dame’s Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a live chat for the school’s alumni association. On that chat, the subject of the recent Big Ten media rights deal came up. He praised Commissioner Kevin Warren and called the Big Ten’s strategy brilliant and added that it’s great for college football because it gives networks inventory and now an incentive to produce around it. He also said when the value of the deals was announced, it’d be “pretty amazing” for the conference.

He then discussed how it fit with Notre Dame’s outlook on television media rights.

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said. “We need NBC to have more college football to more effectively promote our games and to talk about our games and to have NBC be seen in that light. So that was great for us that they got a big piece of this.”

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Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Signs Contract Extension With ESPN

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package.



Football analyst Louis Riddick has signed a new extension to continue his career with ESPN.

The network made the announcement on Wednesday when announcing their broadcast teams for the 2022 college football season. In that release, it was revealed that Riddick would be returning to the college football booth for the first time since 2019.

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package and be partnered with play-by-play commentator Matt Barrie and Harry Lyles Jr.

It was announced earlier this summer that Riddick would also be in the booth for ESPN’s preseason NFL action. He’ll also be in the booth for three weeks that ESPN has multiple games in that week.

Riddick’s first college football game assignment will be the Backyard Brawl game between West Virginia and Pittsburgh and the latter has already noted their excitement.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Adds Aaron Murray, Re-Signs Beth Mowins For College Football Coverage

Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.



Aaron Murray, Beth Mowins

ESPN announced the hiring of Aaron Murray to its analyst roster.

Murray, a former quarterback at Georgia and most recently an analyst with CBS Sports Network, will call a handful of games on the SEC Network. He’ll also appear on some of the network’s studio programming.

ESPN also announced the re-signing of play-by-play commentator Beth Mowins to a multi-year deal. In addition to football, Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.

ESPN announced the broadcast crews for its college football coverage as well.

ABC Saturday Night FootballChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe
ESPN Saturday Night PrimetimeSean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Molly McGrath
ESPN and ABC SaturdayJoe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George
ESPN and ABC SaturdayMark Jones, Robert Griffin III, Quint Kessenich
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill
ESPN and ABC SaturdayBob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Tiffany Blackmon
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayAnish Shroff, Brock Osweiler, Taylor McGregor
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBeth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony
ESPN ThursdayMatt Barrie, Louis Riddick, Harry Lyles Jr.
ESPN and ESPN2 FridayRoy Philpott, Andre Ware, Paul Carcaterra
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBrian Custer, Dustin Fox, Lauren Sisler
SEC Saturday NightTom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
ACC Network PrimetimeDave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Kelsey Riggs
SEC NetworkDave Neal, Deuce McAllister, Andraya Carter
SEC NetworkTaylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
ACC NetworkWes Durham, Roddy Jones, Taylor Davis
ACC NetworkChris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Lericia Harris
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayClay Matvick, Rocky Boiman, Dawn Davenport
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayKevin Brown, Hutson Mason
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayJohn Schriffen, Rene Ingoglia
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayDrew Carter, TBD
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayConnor Onion, Craig Haubert
Longhorn NetworkLowell Galindo, Sam Acho, Alex Chappell
ESPNU Thursday – HBCUTiffany Greene, Jay Walker
ESPN Radio Marc Kestecher, Kelly Stouffer, Ian FitzsimmonsMike Couzens, Max Starks

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