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Television’s most brash and outspoken on-air personalities are often times the highest-paid. That’s the case in broadcast and cable news, and now it’s also true in sports television news.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that ESPN’s most outspoken on-air personality is now it’s highest paid. Stephen A. Smith‘s new contract, according to Marchand, is for five-years and approaches $8 million per year, making him ESPN’s highest-paid sportscaster.
According to Marchand, the deal moves Smith past Mike Greenberg’s $6.5 million annual salary, which was ESPN’s previous known highest salary. Greenberg is the host of the network’s morning show Get Up!.
Smith will continue to be front and center on ESPN’s air with his daily morning show First Take, which has Get Up! as its lead-in, as well as on SportsCenter and the network’s NBA coverage. The Smith has already started hosting Wednesday’s early-evening edition of SportsCenter leading into ESPN’s NBA schedule that night.
According to Marchand, The Worldwide Leader in Sports also wants to figure out a way to involve “Stephen A.” in its new streaming service ESPN+.
To be fair, as Marchand notes, Smith is EVERYWHERE on ESPN. Change the channel (or remain on the channel) and there’s a solid chance you’ll see him. With that in mind, it probably makes sense that Smith becomes the network’s highest-paid personality.
An annual salary of $8 million sounds like an outrageous amount of money to the everyday human being, but it’s actually less than what many of the top TV newsers make.
Forbes reported in August 2018 that Sean Hannity was making an estimated $36 million per year before taxes, thanks to his paychecks from Fox News and Premiere Networks, respectively. According to Forbes, Hannity makes $15 million annually from Fox News, $20 million from Premiere, and more from speaking fees.
According to a 2017 story in Variety, the disgraced Matt Lauer was making an estimated $25 million annually as co-host of NBC’s Today. Megyn Kelly was making an estimated $18 million at NBC News. ABC News’ Robin Roberts makes an estimated $18 million, and her GMA colleague, ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos makes an estimated $15 million. Anderson Cooper makes an estimated $12 million at CNN (not counting his CBS News salary for his work on 60 Minutes).
While Smith is ESPN’s highest-paid talent for now, the network could go after free-agent-to-be NFL on CBS color commentator Tony Romo, who is presently CBS Sports’ top NFL on-air analyst, and teams with Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson‘s on CBS’ nationally-televised games.
ESPN is expected to have interest in Romo for Monday Night Football.