*Skip Bayless’ current contract with FOX expires in 2020, and according to a report from Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, this will open a door for a reunion with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on the “First Take” morning show.
“They both want to make it happen,” a source told McCarthy.
The move would make sense for Bayless, as his morning show “Undisputed,” which he hosts with Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, averages between 150,000 to 180,000 daily viewers, according to McCarthy. Meanwhile, Smith’s “First Take,” averages 400,000 to 500,000 daily viewers in the same time slot.
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Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless are poised to potentially pull off the reunion of reunions at ESPN’s First Take.
Once his Fox contract expires in 2020, Bayless could return to ESPN where he worked for 12 years. https://t.co/VkiRrDp828
— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) November 11, 2019
“The way [ESPN] would position this is they’re taking ‘First Take’ to ‘another level,’” another source told Front Office Sports. “Nobody thinks Stephen A. and Max are a match made in heaven. Same for Skip and Shannon. Put (Stephen A. and Skip) back together again.”
Bayless left ESPN for Fox Sports 1 in 2016, signed a four-year, $25 million contract with FOX. He would become the second-highest paid employee at ESPN, assuming the network would increase his current salary.
Meanwhile, Smith recently inked a near-$8 million per year deal with ESPN, New York Post reports. His new five-year contract will make him the network’s highest-paid sportscaster. Mike Greenberg comes in second at $6.5 million.
“The era of modern sports talent is here,” one television executive told Front Office Sports. “The top 1 percent will make the big money. The middle will go away. And low paying talent will fill out the grid.”