ESPN Buys FiveThirtyEight Franchise

ESPN Buys FiveThirtyEight Franchise

After announcing that it had officially hired Nate Silver, ESPN announced that it bought his FiveThirtyEight franchise on Monday. The network did not disclose how much it paid for the franchise. 

Silver, whose contract with the New York Times expires late this year, will also analyze on politics on ABC, ESPN’s sister network. It had been previously thought that FiveThirtyEight would move over to ESPN in a licensing deal. Silver’s site will return to the url. 

After being a prominent baseball analytics geek who developed the PECOTA system, Silver got national acclaim after having correctly projecting various outcomes during 2008 presidential election, though it was later revealed that the liberal-leaning analyst had signed a confidentiality agreement with the Obama campaign to receive their internal polling data.

ESPN had earlier announced that Silver “will serve as the editor-in-chief of the site and will build a team of journalists, editors, analysts and contributors in the coming months.” The site will resemble Grantland and also focus on other topics–economics and education. 

Silver’s contract with the Times reportedly expires in August. Silver’s primary responsibility will be in sports, such as contributing to ESPN’s Olbermann. MSNBC, the network that had employed the vitriolic and bombastic Olbermann, had reportedly tried to hire Silver as well. He will also reportedly participate in ABC’s coverage of the Oscars, which was a bargaining chip ESPN and ABC used in courting Silver. In addition, he will help ABC with political analysis in key election years and his decision to make the jump was reportedly made easier after clicking with those on ABC’s political team–like political editor and fellow baseball fan Rick Klein. 


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