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Dan Le Batard: I Think Stephen A. Smith is About to ‘Shake the Industry With His Next Contract’

“He’s going to have an ability to get power here because he brought in Shannon Sharpe too; he carried him over.”

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Evan Angelastro, GQ

ESPN morning program First Take continues to finish at the top of the television ratings, recently completing its most-watched year ever with an average of 496,000 viewers. The program has attained 19 consecutive months of year-over-year growth and continues to grow its digital media presence on YouTube and other social media platforms. Featured commentator and executive producer Stephen A. Smith appears on the show regularly alongside host Molly Qerim, both of whom are joined by a rotation of commentators and analysts who contribute to debates and discussions. Outside of First Take, Smith also hosts his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show, which is produced by his production company, Mr. SAS Productions, and distributed by iHeartMedia’s podcast network.

Last year, Meadowlark Media co-founder and host Dan Le Batard welcomed Smith onto his program, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, to discuss facets of the sports media industry. A central point of the discussion surrounded Smith’s role in promoting debate culture through his work on ESPN with Skip Bayless. In the past, Le Batard has conveyed that he believes Smith is building something outside of ESPN, calling First Take an “infomercial” for what he is going to do next. In addition to The Stephen A. Smith Show podcast, Smith’s production company has been greenlit to produce a docuseries called Up for Debate and a drama series outside of ESPN and The Walt Disney Company.

Smith has expressed numerous times that he feels he is underpaid for his work at ESPN and that the deal the network inked with Pat McAfee to license his show does not bother him. Le Batard believes that Smith knows his worth to the network and has more power than ever before. In comparing and contrasting Smith and Bayless, Le Batard shared that while they make the same amount of money, Smith’s production company is an aspect of what he is working to build.

“It’s going to be powerful and impressive whether he does it with ESPN or outside of ESPN because Stephen A. Smith wants to play with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the sphere of, ‘I’m as big a star in sports right now as there is. I’m a media star and I’m at my company and I’m underpaid,’” Le Batard expressed. “He’s going to have an ability to get power here because he brought in Shannon Sharpe too; he carried him over.”

Smith advocated for Shannon Sharpe to join First Take as a contributor after the end of his time with FOX Sports 1 (FS1) on Undisputed. In addition to joining ESPN on this basis, Sharpe also inked a deal with Colin Cowherd’s sports media company, The Volume, to host his Club Shay Shay podcast and develop new programming under the aegis of Shay Shay Media. While there, Sharpe launched the Nightcap podcast with Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Gilbert Arenas with timely, insightful and entertaining discussion about collegiate and professional sports.

“We’re watching the end of Skip Bayless because those numbers are so bad, Stugotz – we were doing twice those numbers on ESPNEWS,” Le Batard said, referring to the ratings for Undisputed. “He’s coming to the end of his contract and Nick Wright is here to have the money that FOX has to offer, and Colin Cowherd’s going to do whatever he wants with him and his company and Shannon Sharpe, and they’re going to compete at the top of the game – the sports media games and the athlete games at the top of the business.”

Le Batard believes that Smith and Sharpe are in the midst of changing the sports media landscape and have liberty to build whatever they want. It is unknown whether he and Sharpe will collaborate in a business venture outside of ESPN or continue working separately. Nonetheless, Le Batard understands the trials and tribulations they have had to overcome throughout their careers to successfully build their own brands and garner ostensible leverage in the sports media industry.

“Skip Bayless created an economy; Stephen A. Smith buried it,” Le Batard said. “He’s super-competitive, he’s a conqueror and he’s getting bigger than he’s ever been. What is about to happen is he is about to, I think, shake the industry with his next contract and should because he’s a ratings monster.”

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Report: Scott Van Pelt to Relaunch ‘SVPod’ with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions

This news comes on the heels of ESPN and Omaha Productions announcing a nine-year, multi-platform rights extension through 2034.

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Graphic for the SVPod and logos for ESPN and Omaha Productions

ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt is bringing his ‘SVPod’ podcast back after nine months off. According to Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, Van Pelt has partnered with Peyton Manning and Omaha Productions and along with show co-host ‘Stanford’ Steve Coughlin, they will dop two shows per week. McCarthy also reports that as part of the deal, ESPN will air the video version of the show on their YouTube page.

This news comes on the heels of ESPN and Omaha Productions announcing a nine-year, multi-platform rights extension through 2034. As part of the deal, Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli will continue, which recently attained an average of 1.24 million viewers over its nine-game slate.

The series, which has been on the air for the last three seasons, features former NFL quarterbacks and Super Bowl champions Peyton and Eli Manning who break down the game and welcome several special guests.

Van Pelt’s ‘SVPod’ debuted on January 14, 2020. At that time, Van Pelt was looking for more time to expound on various topics or have longer interviews with topical guests.

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Yahoo Sports Adds Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson East as Correspondent

“I’m excited to watch the world’s best athletes compete on the biggest stage and take fans behind the scenes along the way.”

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Photos of Shawn Johnson East
Courtesy: Brand-Innovators.com and Getty Images

Yahoo Sports announced is adding Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East as a correspondent for this summer’s games in Paris. Johnson East will be in France to deliver coverage of the gymnastics competition as well as additional moments such as the Opening Ceremony.

She’ll contribute analysis, athlete interviews, and features that bring fans closer to the games’ biggest stories. She’ll also provide reaction to the gymnastics U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June. Johnson East’s coverage will be available across Yahoo Sports platforms and via her social channels. 

“It’s such an honor to be able to return to the Olympics in 2024 with my family for the first time to be an official correspondent for Yahoo Sports,” Johnson East said. “I’m excited to watch the world’s best athletes compete on the biggest stage and take fans behind the scenes along the way.”

Johnson East won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic balance beam event. She won silver in the team, all-around, and floor exercise events. After retiring from gymnastics in 2012, Shawn has gone on to write a New York Times best-selling book, win Dancing with the Stars, and start a YouTube channel with more than 405 million views and a popular podcast with her husband, Andrew.

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The Dan Patrick Podcast Network Adds Two Jomboy Media Shows

“I love entertainment that surprises and informs, which makes ‘Jimmy’s Three Things’ and ‘Wake N’ Jake’ great additions to my podcast network.”

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Logos for the Jimmy's 3 Things and Wake n JAke podcasts

iHeartPodcasts, Dan Patrick and Jomboy Media announced a partnership to add the “Jimmy’s Three Things” and “Wake N’ Jake” podcasts to The Dan Patrick Podcast Network, effective immediately.

Co-produced by Patrick, iHeartPodcasts, Workhouse Media and Jomboy Media, “Jimmy’s Three Things” and “Wake N’ Jake” — individually hosted by Jomboy Media co-founders Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien” and Jake Storiale, respectively — are available now on the iHeartRadio app and everywhere podcasts are heard.

In each episode of Jimmy’s Three Things, Jomboy reveals his “3 things” of the week. Wake N’ Jake covers the biggest storylines across the world of sports, including the latest trades, injuries, prospects, draft previews, predictions, and more.

“Dan Patrick’s an originator of the fun-first, fan-driven sports community that Jomboy Media is built upon,” said Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien in a release. “Partnering with his podcast network is a tremendous opportunity to take two of our most fun shows to the new level.”

“I grew up watching Dan Patrick and to be working with him now is a dream.” said Jake Storiale. “It’s really cool to see our company grow in so many organic and surprising ways, and now some of our shows will be hosted on one of the biggest podcast platforms in the country.”

“Moments with Jimmy ‘Jomboy’ O’Brien and Jake Storiale are rarely predictable,” shared Dan Patrick. “I love entertainment that surprises and informs, which makes ‘Jimmy’s Three Things’ and ‘Wake N’ Jake’ great additions to my podcast network.”

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