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ESPN reportedly paying Katie Nolan more than $1 million per year

Katie Nolan’s responsibilities at ESPN include hosting “SportsCenter” SnapChats and a weekly podcast. For that, she’s reportedly getting paid more than $1 million per year, two sources tell the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.

ESPN announced last week Nolan will host her own weekly late-night digital show, “Always Late,” which will appear on Twitter. According to the WorldWide Leader, the program will feature Nolan’s “sharp, irreverent and authentic voice” commenting on issues in the world of sports and pop culture.

In other words, it sounds exactly like her old FS1 show, “Garbage Time.” Fox Sports discontinued the program in February, and then kept her off the air until they let her go in August.
ESPN appears to be reshaping its brand around personalities rather than the sum of its parts. The WordWide Leader is cutting back its excesses, laying off over 250 employees in two recent massive rounds of layoffs. Most of the victims were lesser-known anchors, reporters and behind-the-scenes people.

At the same time, ESPN has invested in some expensive projects. The most glaring example is the Mike Greenberg-led morning show, “Get Up,” which reportedly pays its three anchors $14.5 million in salary. Up to this point, the show’s ratings haven’t come close to satisfying its budget. The numbers for ESPN’s weekday morning edition of “SportsCenter” are down compared to last year.

Nolan’s seven-figure salary indicates she’s also one of management’s hand-picked stars. But curiously, she’s largely been kept off television since she was signed in October, barring special appearances on “Highly Questionable” with Dan Le Batard and other studio shows. In a statement to the Post, ESPN says that’s by design.

“When Katie joined ESPN, we announced that she would bring her perspective, authenticity and sense of humor across multiple platforms in a variety of projects, and that is exactly what is happening,” said Ryan Spoon, ESPN senior vice president of social media. “Yes, she is most prominent on digital. That’s not a flaw; it’s by design. Building invested fans today requires that you reach them in a variety of ways and not be limited by past conventions.”

Nolan has flashed potential in the past. She first rose to prominence in 2014, when her Ray Rice commentary went viral. In it, Nolan argues against boycotting the NFL because of its lenient domestic violence policies. The clip is biting and funny.

But Nolan, despite her promise and 400,000 Twitter followers, still seems to be doing a whole lot of nothing. It’s strange as to why ESPN would pay somebody seven figures who they seem cautious to utilize.

Maybe Nolan’s digital show will be a big hit. It’s clear ESPN is investing in the concept. Last week, the company also announced the creation of five other Twitter shows to go along with Nolan’s offering.

But right now, it’s hard to argue Nolan is worth the money. Ditto for Greenberg’s crew on “Get Up” and the failed “SC6” experiment. It’s understandable as to why ESPN would want to spend its capital on stars. The key is selecting the right ones. - WEEI

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