Earlier this year, reports emerged that ESPN and Stephen A. Smith were deep in talks on a “blockbuster” contract extension. Now, that deal is set to become official.
The deal, which is reportedly in the $8 million per year range, will makes Stephen A. the highest-paid ESPN employee, passing Get Up host Mike Greenberg.
Of course, given where things were reportedly heading, ESPN might think that huge number is a win. Per the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, some thought he’d get upwards of $10 million per year.
It is unclear how much his role within the company will change. Viewers have probably noticed that Smith has started to helm some editions of SportsCenter, on top of his main gig on First Take. He also pops up on other programming, including appearances on Get Up and during the network’s NBA coverage.
He is giving up his national radio show, which is currently simulcast during the afternoon. From the Post:
Stephen A. Smith’s new five-year contract will make him ESPN’s highest-paid sportscaster with an annual salary that will approach $8 million per year, according to sources.
Smith got nearly $8 million, but he received some money upfront, making it more worth his while to re-up with a year left on his current deal.
Smith will continue to be front and center on ESPN’s air with his daily morning show “First Take,” as well as on “SportsCenter” and the network’s NBA coverage. Though the finer points of the contract are not fully completed, Smith has already started hosting Wednesday’s “SportsCenter” leading into ESPN’s NBA schedule that night.
Whether or not you like Stephen A. Smith, there is no doubt he has significant value to ESPN, if only because he is among the most active people on the network. There may be no one that fills more airtime for the Worldwide Leader, and now he’ll be doing so for the foreseeable future.
Smith, who joined ESPN in 2005, should hit 20 years with the company with this new five-year extension.