By Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing
In our detailed look at free agency amongst the major sports networks, it was amazing to see the eodus of talent from Bristol. In about a year, ESPN had said goodbye to Erin Andrews, Michelle Beadle, Bruce Feldman, Brian Kenny, and about a dozen well-known personalities. However, ESPN has the luxury of seeing such individuals leave without missing a beat because of their ability to build new stars all the time as the sports behemoth they are.
Alas, not everyone is leaving Bristol. The most important move in this past cycle of free agency was ESPN keeping Scott Van Pelt, who has grown into arguably the network's top cross-platform personality in the past few years. Now, ESPN has announced the re-signing of a host of additional on-air talent. SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott, NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, and NFL reporters Adam Schefter, John Clayton, and Ed Werder have all signed multi-year contract extensions.
In the past, this would have gone quietly under the radar. However, as Michael Hiestand notes in USA Today, ESPN will be announcing deals like this in order to discount the notion that top talent is actively looking to leave the friendly confines of Bristol for greener pastures. It's a simple PR move by the leader to remind the world of their status as kings of the sports media mountain.
As far as the individuals re-signed, Schefter, Clayton, and Werder are all among the best as what they do. Schefter particularly has blossomed into ESPN's #1 insider regardless of sport since his move from NFL Network in 2009. Kiper has been surpassed by Mike Mayock as the premier NFL Draft analyst in the eyes of many, but I still regard the two largely as equals. Stuart Scott's peak popularity came long ago, but he's bearable in small doses as long as he's toned down and kept away from the NBA Draft.
Additionally, Richard Deitsch reported more details at SI including the length of contracts for the NFL quartet:
- Mel Kiper - 6 year deal through 2018 (which will take him to his 35TH NFL DRAFT for the network)
- Adam Schefter - 5 year deal through 2017
- John Clayton - 4 year deal through 2016
- Ed Werder - 4 year deal through 2016 (including expanded responsibilities around the league)
To me, these details becoming public are the more intriguing part of this story. In the past, contract details for the top sports media figures were kept under lock and key. Remember the shock when we learned Gus Johnson's contract had expired with CBS and he was on his way to Fox? That news came from out of nowhere. Yet in the past year, with reporting from mainstream and new media sources, we've been able to follow along on the negotiations of Erin Andrews, Scott Van Pelt, and Michelle Beadle. Just yesterday, The Big Lead noted Dan Shulman may be the next ESPNer to hit the free agent market as another cycle of movement begins.
The bottom line should be as true for sports media as in any other realm of reporting. As more and more of these details become public knowledge, it's a benefit for sports fans and those interested in the media to have information flowing more freely.
Scott Van Pelt
Scott Van Pelt attends the Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic Gala at TPC Sawgrass on April 13, 2012 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Steven A. Smith
Former ESPN radio's Steven A. Smith attends ESPN the Magazine's 7th Annual Pre-Draft Party at Espace on April 21, 2010 in New York City.
ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott arriving at the ESPN The Magazine's After Dark Party in the Metropolitan Big Room at Generations Hall on February 15, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Buchigross has been an anchor for ESPN since 1996, working on <em>SportsCenter</em>, as well as an NHL column for ESPN.com.
Former Cold Pizza host Skip Bayless on the ESPN set in Miami, Florida on February 1, 2007.
ESPN personality Chris Berman speaks onstage during The 2011 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Berthiaume is an anchor for<em> SportsCenter</em> and also hosts ESPN's <em>Baseball Tonight</em>.
Cohn regularly anchors ESPN's <em>SportsCenter</em>. She has been in that role since 1992, and also added play-by-play for WNBA telecasts to her repertoire in 2005.
Sports writer Bill Simmons speaks at the 2010 New Yorker Festival at DGA Theater on October 2, 2010 in New York City.
ESPN Anchor and Host Bob Ley arrives to the 2005 IRTS Foundation Awards at the Waldorf Astoria on October 6, 2005 in New York City.
Schefter is the NFL Insider for ESPN, and appeared frequently on ESPN's <em>Around the Horn</em>.
Sideline reporter Chris Mortensen on ESPN Monday Night Football September 11, 2006 in Washington.
Kenny Mayne of ESPN asks a question during the GMC Defensive Player of the Year award news conference prior to Super Bowl XLII at the Phoenix Convention Center on January 31, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jay Crawford and Skip Bayless during a broadcast of ESPN's Cold Pizza from the Super Bowl XL Media Center at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan on January 30, 2006.
Ravech has worked for ESPN since 1993, and he appears mostly on <em>SportsCenter</em>, as well as <em>Baseball Tonight</em>.
Reali is the host of <em>Around the Horn</em> on ESPN, and previously worked on <em>Pardon the Interruption</em> in October 2001.
Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic
Golic joined ESPN in 1995 as an analyst for <em>Sunday NFL Countdown</em>, and is currently a co-host of <em>Mike and Mike in the Morning </em>with Mike Greenberg. Greenberg occasionally hosts <em>SportsCenter</em> in addition to his radio show.
Anderson has hosted <em>SportsCenter</em> since June 1999.
Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio hosts The Herd from the Super Bowl XL Media Center at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan on January 30, 2006.
Hockey Analyst Barry Melrose speaks on set during a NHL Network broadcats during the 2012 NHL All-Star Game Player Media Availability at the Westin Ottawa on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Journalist Hannah Storm attends the 34th Annual AWRT Gracie Awards Gala at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 3, 2009 in New York City.
ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale does a live broadcast before a game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Dean Smith Center on January 26, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.