There are lots of “bloviating” commentators all over the sports media realm and to be fair, that persona is not their fault. If you’re not hated as much as you’re loved then you’re not going to be just a run-of-the-mill anti-hot take analyst. If it’s not controversial then it’s boring.
People love to hate-watch and the sports media stars are fully aware of playing right into your anger over their “analysis.”
And the biggest loudmouth on ESPN is about to land the richest contract in its history.
It’s all about the voice. And Stephen A. Smith has a big one. You’d be hard pressed to watch his show “First Take” on ESPN without having him scream at you and co-host Max Kellerman at least a dozen times during the two-hour show.
It’s his modus operandi and it works. Sure, he says some obnoxious things and overuses certain words and phrases like “bloviate,” “the fact of the matter is,” and “blasphemous,” but the fact of the matter is he’s regarded as one of the most influential voices in the industry.
Smith was already one of the highest paid commentators on ESPN and now he’s about to become even richer.
The New York Post reports, “Smith is in line to become the highest-paid on-air person at ESPN by potentially boosting his salary to $10 million per year, according to people with knowledge of the upcoming negotiations.”
Multiple executives and agents confirmed that he will demand somewhere in the $8-10 million range.
The self-proclaimed NBA know-it-all was garnering an estimated $5 million and still has two years left on his contract, but a jump in ratings of First Take and his “Stephen A. Smith” show finally being broadcasted on ESPN 2 just before “The Will Cain Show” has likely changed his mind that he’s earned a restructured contract or extension.
Why? It’s because those guys are too tame even though their analysis – particularly Kornheiser and Wilbon of “Pardon the Interruption” – is too accurate and precise for its own good.
That’s precisely why Smith’s former “First Take” co-host Skip Bayless of “Undisputed” and Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports “The Herd” fall into the same category.
The hot-takes are polarizing on purpose because it’s a huge cash cow.
One thing ESPN executives absolutely love about Smith is that he’s a relentlessly hard worker. He’s willing to go on-air for them at anytime. He has two two-hour shows in the morning and then you’ll see him commenting on sporting events for the ESPN night crew after they end. He doesn’t sleep.
Not to mention, he flies all over the country wherever they need him.
His analyses might be overblown, absurd and hyperbolic, but he’s unabashed about his opinions – constantly referencing that he doesn’t care about his critics’ opinions of his takes. He doesn’t fear embarrassment or ridicule.
At least he’s consistent. And now he’s about to get paid for it.