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Connor Schell Exits ESPN To Launch Production Company

“Despite Schell’s exit being announced amid ESPN’s large round of layoffs, he will reportedly depart the network on his own terms.”

Brandon Contes

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As ESPN looks to reshape their workforce following the decision to lay off 300 employees, they’ll do so without one of their top executives, Connor Schell.

First reported by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Schell will be leaving The Worldwide Leader in the coming months, with plans of launching his own production company. Schell, who joined ESPN in 2004, was named their EVP of content in 2017. Overseeing all content at ESPN, Schell was also one of the leading creators of the 30 for 30 brand and contributed as a producer for event series OJ: Made in America and The Last Dance

Despite Schell’s exit being announced amid ESPN’s large round of layoffs, he will reportedly depart the network on his own terms. Although Schell’s departure is unrelated to the layoffs, finding his replacement will present a challenge for ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro. 

An executive with a history of production success, not only is Schell looking to start his own company, but ESPN reportedly remains interested in collaborating with him on future documentaries. 

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After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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