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Shannon Sharpe Nearing Multi-Year ESPN Contract. Is the ‘Club Shay Shay’ Host Being Positioned to Push Out Stephen A. Smith?

NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe is on the verge of securing a multi-year contract with ESPN, following his impactful stint at FS1 and the success of his popular podcasts. 

Shannon Sharpe
ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 02: NFL player Shannon Sharpe attends the 8th Annual NFL Honors at The Fox Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

ESPN stands to gain a valuable asset in Sharpe, as his upcoming deal is expected to consider his many contributions across different platforms, The Athletic reported.

Gaining Clout

Sharpe currently has a contract with ESPN, regularly appearing as a guest on “First Take” alongside primary host Stephen A. Smith and moderator Molly Qerim on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

However, there is speculation about an expansion of his role due to his increasing popularity on his “Club Shay Shay” and the “Nightcap” podcasts and his significant contribution to boosting the ratings of “First Take.” 

Since his debut on Sept. 4, 2023, Sharpe was a standout on “First Take,” pulling in 727,000 viewers, marking one of the highest ratings in the show’s history, according to Front Office Sports.

On certain occasions, when Sharpe joins “First Take”, the show draws almost five times the viewership of “Undisputed,” which widens the gap between the two debate shows.

In the initial three months following Sharpe’s arrival – September to November – “First Take” averaged 554,000 viewers, a stark comparison to his old show with Skip Bayless – “Undisputed” on FS1, which only managed 120,000 viewers, Front Office Sports reported.

A report from The Sun suggests that Sharpe’s increasing influence and popularity may have earned him a four-year contract with ESPN, though the specific amount remains undisclosed. 

Sharpe’s transition into TV sports broadcasting has expanded into digital media with a series of podcasts that have exploded in popularity. 

Katt Williams’ interview on Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” podcast was extremely popular, reaching an estimated 56 million views at the time of reporting. Sharpe’s earnings from the viral interview amount to more than $1 million from YouTube ad revenue alone, Finurah reported.

Sharpe himself stated that he made more money from the Katt Williams interview than in any single year he played in the NFL.

His success in various fields has translated to an estimated net worth of $14 million.

The reports suggest that Sharpe is being positioned as Smith’s potential successor, or the next big thing, on “First Take,” which could mean that his salary may be lower than Smith’s, for now.

Stephen A. Smith’s current contract with ESPN is for $12 million per year, an $8 million salary plus a $4 million production deal.

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