Get excited, Skip Bayless fans…. those of you that exist, anyway. He isn’t going anywhere.
According to a report by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN attempted to bring the former First Take co-host back. He described the offer as a “full-court press to reunited Skip Bayless with Stephen A. Smith.”
The proposal would have paired the two on an additional show for ESPN+, the network’s OTT platform, as well as spots on Monday Night Football. It would’ve made the argumentative pair incredibly ubiquitous on the network.
FOX Sports was determined to hold on to their outspoken Undisputed co-host. Marchand reports that Bayless has agreed to an eye-popping four-year, $32 million deal to stay with the network.
NEWS: ESPN made a huge offer to reunite Skip Bayless with Stephen A, but Fox Sports retained Bayless with a four-year, $32M contract, The Post has learned.https://t.co/hBkUoxL0Pp
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 4, 2021
ESPN’s offer to Bayless was reportedly somewhere between $26.5 and $31 million. Ultimately, he opted to stay with FS1 and Undisputed, with the network working on a second Bayless solo show.
Even after he chose not to reunite with Stephen A. Smith, with whom he remains close, ESPN went so far as to try and still work out a deal to have the pair appear on an ESPN+ show, while remaining on the rival networks for their main daily debate shows.
Even when Fox Sports had an agreement with Bayless to stay, ESPN was still determined to add a Smith and Bayless show to ESPN+. This is the area that Disney, ESPN’s parent company, is focused on and looks at as its future.
ESPN executives broached the idea of having Bayless stay on FS1 in the mornings, debating on “Undisputed” with Sharpe, while Smith continued on ESPN’s “First Take” in the mornings with Max Kellerman.
Then, in a rare cross-pollination between ESPN and Fox Sports broadcasters, Smith and Bayless would still team up for their ESPN+ program.
Ultimately, there were too many hurdles to make such a cross corporation setup feasible.
Given ESPN’s grand plans for Skip Bayless, were they able to lure him back, there are probably a lot of viewers who are relieved to see him stay where he is.
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