“If Shannon Sharpe Needs Me, I’m Happy To Be Here For Him” | It’s Now Stephen A. Smith’s Turn To Court Uncle Shay Shay

First it was Pat McAfee, who hasn’t even begun his tenure with ESPN, recruiting soon-to-be broadcast free agent Shannon Sharpe. Now it’s the worldwide leader’s biggest talent in Stephen A. Smith. It seems like if Sharpe wants to work at ESPN, the door is open.

“I don’t know what Shannon Sharpe’s plans are right now,” Smith said on his eponymous show. “But if that included him coming on ‘First Take,’ the bosses at ESPN know that is something I would support.”

According to reports, Sharpe and his co-host Skip Bayless’ relationship was getting more contentious lately, and an insensitive tweet sent by Bayless after Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field really irked Sharpe.

People on Twitter have also suggested that Sharpe is tired of being spoken down to by Bayless, and that the attacks from Bayless are personal.

This is what these shows are though.

Sharpe Will Draw Eyeballs

Scroll through social media in the morning during the time “Undisputed” and “First Take” are on the air and you’ll see tons of clips of one of the talking heads “owning” another in a “debate.” But these aren’t real debates. It’s all performative so the clips can go viral and draw in more viewers.

Maybe Sharpe is tired of performing with Bayless and wants to go back and forth with someone else.

FS1’s Rob Parker and Chris Broussard were surprised when they heard the news that their colleague was leaving. But believe he will be on another platform very soon.

“I’m stunned by this news of Shannon Sharpe leaving ‘Undisputed,’ I think it’s a huge loss for FS1,” Chris Broussard said on Fox Sports Radio’s “The Odd Couple” last Wednesday. “I thought that he and Skip Bayless had at least gotten to a point where they could coexist, but apparently not.”

“He’ll have plenty of suitors, because he’s made a brand for himself,” Parker added. “There’ll be a show for him.”

A Lot Of Opportunities At ESPN For Sharpe

ESPN and FS1 are competing for eyeballs and mindshare in a very crowded content environment. Add in the sportsbooks, who are all creating original content, and you have something of an arms race.

If ESPN can lock up three of the biggest sports talk personalities that’s a big win for the network. Fans of Sharpe will have to tune in and engage with ESPN’s platforms if they want to follow what Sharpe is saying.

Imagine the producers of ESPN thinking of ways to get Sharpe to pretend to smoke Black & Milds while Smith is wearing his Cowboys hat, all while poking fun at Michael Irvin during a segment.

Then there are all the cross-platform opportunities. Sharpe could appear on “NFL Live” or “NFL Countdown” or the “Monday Night Football” pregame.

Whomever decides to sign Sharpe to his next deal is making a business decision. They believe that his ability to perform on live television is worth a lot of eyeballs, which leads to advertisers and more dollars on the broadcast side. More streams and downloads digitally also are useful in selling to advertisers.

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