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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

ESPN executive isn’t worried about replacing Stephen A

ESPN executive isn’t worried about replacing Stephen A

Stephen A Smith is clearly the face of ESPN — but for how long?

Smith’s contract is set to expire next July, and he’s reportedly been in negotiations with ESPN for a new deal. ESPN executive Burke Magnus recently appeared on The Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch and talked about the possibility of life without Stephen A. 

First Take would continue, obviously,” Magnus said in response to Deitsch asking if there is a replacement plan if Smith leaves. “We’d figure that out. The great part about the environment that we live in…there is a wealth of talented people out there who, if given the chance, I think could also become superstars very easily on our platform. The format of First Take I think lends to that. It’s already an ensemble situation in many ways. So, I don’t worry about that at all.”

The Winston-Salem State University alumnus is reportedly seeking a $25 million per year deal, while it has been reported that ESPN has offered in the neighborhood of $18 million per year. 

Stephen A, WSSU, ESPNStephen A, WSSU, ESPN
Stephen A Smith prepares to name his top five NBA players of all-time. (Steven J. Gaither/HBCU Gameday)

First Take, which is his primary assignment, is a juggernaut,” Magnus admitted. “I think we’re going to get 24 straight months of month-over-month, year-over-year audience growth. That just doesn’t happen in today’s world. It happens because he’s built this show…I feel as good about our 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. lineup as I’ve ever felt, and I think the results bear that out. He’s a key component to that.”

Smith has been a consistent presence on the network for over two decades, from becoming a contributor to hosting his own late-night show ‘Quite Frankly: With Stephen A.” He was briefly fired by the company back in 2009 before bouncing back in a major way. He’s been one of — and now ‘the’ face of First Take, which continues to grow its audience.

In addition to his work for ESPN, he has also started his own production company as well as launching his own podcast. Love him or hate him, Stephen A. is one of the most talked about and viewed personalities in sports media —and in media overall. It will definitely be interesting to see if the two sides can come to an agreement, or if Smith will ride off into the sunset for his next chapter. 

ESPN executive isn’t worried about replacing Stephen A

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