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FiveThirtyEight Moves from ESPN to ABC News

Brandon Contes

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In January, Ryan Glasspiegel, of The Big Lead reported ESPN began exploring the sale of FiveThirtyEight.  Finding a financially sensible suitor for the website, which was reportedly losing $6 million annually may have been difficult, but FiveThirtyEight will remain a Disney owned platform, moving from ESPN to ABC News.

“Some personal news… FiveThirtyEight is leaving ESPN… but not going very far. Our new home is ABC News! We’re super excited to work with [ABC] and combine our strengths with theirs as we tackle the 2018 and 2020 elections and other news stories,” said FiveThirtyEight founder, Nate Silver, via Twitter.

ESPN acquired FiveThirtyEight in 2013 following their successful coverage of the 2012 election. With political coverage becoming more polarizing and divisive, ESPN has prioritized a focus on sports since new president James Pitaro took over. ESPN did however state they began exploring a move for FiveThirtyEight while John Skipper, who led the 2013 purchase of the platform, was still at the helm.

“This is an exciting move for FiveThirtyEight and our staff,” Silver said in a statement. “With ABC we’ll be able to expand our political coverage at a crucial time, while maintaining a relationship with ESPN for our sports coverage.”

FiveThirtyEight will reportedly need to conduct layoffs with the transition to ABC News, but will ultimately expand their roster as they hire more journalists to cover politics.

“As storytelling around data and analytics remain an important way that ESPN serves sports fans every day, our team will continue to utilize Nate and the FiveThirtyEight experts to allow fans to benefit from their sports content,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president of content at ESPN.

With FiveThirtyEight staying within the Walt Disney family, ESPN will still be able to utilize their statistical expertise to provide sports content. With election polls around the corner, partnering with ABC News should allow FiveThirtyEight to focus on its strengths with better branded political coverage.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Rece Davis Believes Final Regular Season College GameDay Show Typically Most Hectic Due to Coaching Changes

“There were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Rece Davis

College GameDay was in Columbus this past weekend ahead of Ohio State’s annual rivalry game against Michigan, and host Rece Davis said a number of head coaching announcements throughout the show made for some pretty chaotic moments.

Luke Fickell being named the new head coach at Wisconsin and former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule being hired at Nebraska were among the marquee hirings announced over the weekend.

On the College GameDay Podcast, Davis said trying to get information confirmed and incorporated into the show in real time was exhilarating.

“It was a bizarre, fun show that we’ve had over the years when we’ve gone to Ohio State/Michigan,” he said. “I remember the ’16 year that we extended the show to five hours. It was really fun, and then a really great game followed it. And there were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime. But there were a lot of bizarre things going on.”

Podcast co-host and senior college football reporter Pete Thamel echoed Davis’ sentiments, saying he would do a hit on the show, then take out his earpiece and immediately get back on the phone to work on getting the most up to date information.

“It was whoa,” he said. “We did the first segment…and normally I would’ve stayed and watched to see what the guys had to say, but I just walked off the stage and went back and started making calls.”

In addition to the Wisconsin and Nebraska hirings, Thamel was also working on trying to figure out the situation at Auburn. He helped get Rhule on the show as well, and he said it was cool the show’s team was able to book guests so quickly from different locations in the country.

“We literally went coast to coast on GameDay with good interviews on Saturday,” he said.

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Sports TV News

Disney CEO Bob Iger: Company Will Chase Profitability Over Growing Subscriber Base

“We have to start chasing profitability. It will be demanded of us.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Change is abound at Disney, but it’s welcomed change. CEO Bob Iger, who was announced as the replacement for Bob Chapek last week, said his goal is to help get the company’s financial ship righted.

“We have to start chasing profitability,” Iger told employees and executives at a town hall. “It will be demanded of us.”

Iger announced one of his first moves in returning to the CEO role was to shake up its digital media and entertainment distribution division. That branch of the company oversees its streaming services like Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Disney+ boasts tens of millions of subscribers, and Chapek focused heavily on reaching as many people as possible.

But Disney stock price has shrunk sharply over the course of the last year, and there have been other areas of the company in which there has been discourse. There was some belief that Disney could be up for sale.

Iger hopes things at the company can be turned around in due course, but he made one thing for certain: Disney and its properties are not for sale.

“Nothing is forever, but I’m very comfortable with the set of assets that we have,” he said. “I think they can serve our company, don’t expect any headlines soon about deals.”

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Sports TV News

YES Network Considering Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly for Analyst Roles

“I have something else burning fairly hot right now,” Mattingly said. “Depends how that goes.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Could Yankees fans see and hear from two of the franchise’s most beloved former players on TV next season? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. The New York Post reported Monday the team’s YES Network appeared to have an interest in bringing in Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly.

But according to the network’s president of programming and production John Filippelli, it’s all speculative at this point.

“We haven’t had any in-depth discussion with either,” he told Andrew Marchand. “If they are A) available and B) interested, you probably at least have to have a conversation.”

Marchand reached out to Mattingly, who finished his run as manager of the Miami Marlins at the end of the 2022 season, and the former Dodgers manager seemed to indicate that there is another potential opportunity in the works.

“I have something else burning fairly hot right now,” Mattingly said. “Depends how that goes.”

Jeter will likely be a hard sell on getting into the booth. The understanding is the legendary former shortstop doesn’t have a big interest in getting into broadcasting like his former teammate Alex Rodriguez.

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