SBD/November 16, 2012/Media

Columnist: Rick Reilly's ESPN Deal Has Been A "Disaster" For Both Sides

Has Bill Simmons rise at ESPN diminished Reilly's role with the net?
It has been more than five years since ESPN signed Rick Reilly to a $17M contract and “needless to say, the deal has been a disaster for both sides,” according to Will Leitch of SPORTS ON EARTH. Reilly’s “ballplayer contract turned into [Angels LF] Vernon Wells’ right quick.” ESPN “simply had nothing for him to do.” And you can “track Reilly’s demise, frankly, to the rise of [writer and analyst] Bill Simmons.” Simmons “demolished Reilly, not just in page views but in television presence and power at the company.” Simmons has “become one of the signature faces of the network’s NBA coverage.” It is “difficult to pinpoint where Reilly would go next" because it has become “abundantly clear that ESPN’s not going to renew that crazy contract when it expires” in June ’13. Leitch: “I think he’s done. I think ESPN killed him. That is to say: I think he did this to himself" (, 11/15).

HOLDING STEADY: An ESPN spokesperson said that the’s ombudsman pieces analyzing the network’s practices average about 100,000 views per column, a number that has been roughly the same over the history of the feature. The Poynter Review Project’s recent contributions had more total views than previous contributors’ columns because Poynter filed more pieces (THE DAILY).
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