Is ESPN still a destination for the world’s biggest sports media personalities? It’s no secret that over the past two years the company has experienced an exodus. Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock, and Mike Tirico have all departed and a narrative has been created that the worldwide leader in sports is no longer interested in forking over big dollars to the nation’s top talents.
But do they have to?
One can make a case, that exposure for an individual is largely increased when they perform on ESPN. Stephen A. Smith re-signed with the company when he probably could’ve earned more elsewhere, but he was wise enough to recognize the value he gains from being associated with the company.
Make no mistake about it, Smith is still well paid. But, as competition has increased, talent now find themselves in a position to reap the benefits financially, even if it reduces their influence professionally.
Yesterday on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN Radio show, the subject of Skip Bayless departing was raised. Le Batard spoke candidly about it, and provided a behind the scenes account of a conversation he had with Colin Cowherd when he was entertaining moving on. Kyle Koster of The Big Lead transcribed the commentary, and a video is available on The Big Lead’s website:
“The ego of these guys is such that they don’t believe they’re choosing money over winning. They believe they are going to make the difference. It’s happening right now in the sports opinion business. I told Colin Cowherd not to leave this spot. We were having conversations — now I’m revealing private conversations that I shouldn’t be — even though it would have benefited us, I was telling Colin Cowherd I don’t think you leave. You leave, you’re going to get lost, you’re going to do it for money and no one’s going to know where to find you. We don’t do this to have our voices stuffed in a drawer; we do this to be heard.”
“Skip Bayless doesn’t think he’s going for money,” Le Batard added. “Skip Bayless thinks he’s going to make a difference. And he’s not. What’s been happening with the athletes is happening in the gasbag business.”
LeBatard isn’t wrong that there’s a drastic shift in terms of relevance when a top flight personality vacates ESPN, and signs on at another network. The reach of brands such as the CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, and FS1 have yet to enter ESPN’s neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t in the future.
It also doesn’t mean that an individual who has an opportunity to vastly improve their financial standing shouldn’t explore it if they feel it will make other aspects of their life more rewarding. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and Dan Patrick took similar risks and they’ve turned out just fine, even if they broadcast to smaller audiences.
However, if personalities are going to move on from the four letter network, and expect immediate results in another arena, they’re likely to find themselves disappointed. You don’t make the jump without understanding that it’s a long-term play. ESPN may find itself right now in unchartered territory, but the brand still remains powerful. They can also reverse their stance on paying premium dollars for talent tomorrow if they choose to.
What this ultimately boils down to is giving up influence, and relevance for the almighty dollar. Critics and fans of an individual may find fault with a personality’s decision to chase the money, but I’m certain that the person making the decision will gladly welcome media criticism, and public scorn in exchange for enjoying a better life.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Colin Cowherd: Tony Romo Regressing Because He Loves Golf
“I’ve always felt like Tony Romo is one of those guys — and we all have somebody in our social circle like this — he got the golf bug. He’s had it for 15 years.
The performance of CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo has been a hot-button topic in sports media circles, especially after a widely-regarded lackluster performance during the AFC Championship Game. Colin Cowherd believes he knows why Romo has regressed.
During an episode of The Colin Cowherd Podcast, the sports radio host claimed golf is the reason behind Romo’s regression.
“Romo wants to be on the Tour. He literally wants to be on the Tour,” Cowherd said. “And what’s the first thing Aaron Rodgers does in the off-season? He goes and golfs, he loves it. Both, by the way, great golfers, especially Romo. But I’ve always felt like Tony Romo is one of those guys — and we all have somebody in our social circle like this — he got the golf bug. He’s had it for 15 years.
“Tony wants to be on the PGA Tour — but he likes the paycheck from CBS.”
Cowherd also added he hasn’t hired potential employees in the past if they told him they loved golf during the interview process, saying he has a theory that as men age they “get addicted to golf”.
“They’re on PGATour.com, they’re putting in the backyard, they’re thinking about it at work, they’re scheduling a trip to Scotland and they lose sight of their other job,” Cowherd said.
ESPN Radio Adds Lakers Games As LeBron James Nears Scoring Record
“As of Friday, February 3, LeBron James is 63 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points.”
The NBA’s all-time scoring record has stood for a long time. Kareem Abdul-Jabar, the current record holder, retired in 1989. LeBron James is on the verge of overtaking him though, and ESPN Radio wants to make sure it is part of history when it happens.
ESPN Radio has added two upcoming Lakers games to its schedule. The network will carry the national feeds of games on February 7 and 9. The first game is against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The second is against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Both games will be played in Los Angeles with a 9:30 PM Eastern tip. Marc Kestecher and Vince Carter will be on the call for both games.
As of Friday, February 3, LeBron James is 63 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points.
FOX Sports Radio Broadcasting Live From Arizona & Las Vegas For Super Bowl Week
Sports radio will descend upon Glendale, Arizona and the greater Phoenix area next week for Super Bowl LVII, and FOX Sports Radio will be out in full force.
FOX Sports Radio announced Thursday that Dan Patrick, Colin Cowherd, LaVar Arrington, Brady Quinn, Jonas Knox, Doug Gottlieb, Steve Covino, Rich Davis, Chris Broussard and Rob Parker will all be live from either radio row, State Farm Stadium or Scottsdale Stadium starting Monday.
Dan Patrick and his crew will be at Scottsdale Stadium, which is the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants and the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. Colin Cowherd will broadcast two shows from State Farm Stadium, site of this year’s Super Bowl, on Thursday and Friday.
The rest of the FSR names mentioned above will all be doing their respective shows from radio row at the Phoenix Convention Center.
FOX Sports Radio also announced Jason Smith and Mike Harmon will broadcast from the Wynn Las Vegas resort on Thursday and Friday. They will have a strong focus on all things betting with regards to the Super Bowl.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.