Rumblings in the sports media industry that ESPN insiders Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski might leave the network and take their brands to sports betting outlets like Caesars had been gaining volume as each reporter neared the end of their respective contracts.
Schefter, who’s been with ESPN since 2009, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across ESPN programming, including NFL Live, SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, along with pregame shows Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.
Additionally, he hosts The Adam Schefter Podcast and will contribute to NFL Draft and Super Bowl coverage.
As part of his new agreement, Schefter will also have new opportunities, such as producing content for ESPN+.
Earlier this month at the BSM Summit, Schefter was honored with the Champion’s Award, which goes to someone in sports media who has made a significant difference for the industry and those involved in it. Schefter’s efforts for helping the family of Jeff Dickerson, who passed away in December, were recognized.
In addition to his work for ESPN — which was preceded by reporting for NFL Network, the Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News — Schefter has written several books, most recently The Man I Never Met, about his wife’s first husband, who died in the September 11 attacks.
Wojnarowski, who’s been with ESPN since 2017, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across network studio programming, including NBA Countdown, SportsCenter, and NBA Today. He also contributes to NBA Draft coverage, while hosting The Woj Pod.
Creating content for ESPN+ is also part of Wojnarowski’s new agreement with the network.
Prior to joining ESPN, Wojnarowski was an NBA insider for Yahoo Sports and edited the outlet’s basketball site, The Vertical. During his career, he also authored The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty.
Schefter had been attracting interest from Caesar’s Sportsbook, according to Front Office Sports, aware that the insider’s contract with ESPN was nearing its end.
Sports betting companies have also been trying to present themselves as media companies, not just gambling enterprises, in recent months by hiring former ESPN personalities, like Trey Wingo, Kenny Mayne, and Mike Golic. Adding an established reporter such as Schefter or Wojnarowski would boost the credibility of such efforts.
As Schefter has also invited controversy with recent reporting on domestic violence and sexual misconduct stories, the possibility of taking his brand to a non-news outlet may have had some appeal. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said Schefter’s interest was an open secret in the industry.
Though ESPN presumably has other talent already in-house that could have taken over Schefter’s insider duties — including Jeff Darlington, Dianna Russini, and Dan Graziano — the network clearly values Schefter’s work and has given him a number of opportunities outside his NFL reporting, such as NBA reporting.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.