Charissa Thompson, an ESPN TV host who was once pegged as the network’s next Erin Andrews, has left for Fox Sports, multiple sources tell me.
After two years at ESPN, Thompson is returning to Fox, where she worked earlier in her career, at one point co-hosting “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.” When reached by phone this morning, Fox PR rep Dan Bell had no comment. ESPN also had no comment. It’s unclear what Thompson would do at Fox – the Regis Philbin show has been auditioning talent for months but nothing is firm – but the easy guess is she’d host a show like Jay Glazer is getting.
I speculated about the possibility of Thompson leaving ESPN in April, when ESPN and Fox began to battle over Thompson. Sources tell me that Erin Andrews – who is close friends with Thompson – going to Fox last year and Michelle Beadle going to NBC, along with Rachel Nichols leaving ESPN for CNN this year, have sent salaries soaring for women on TV talking sports.
And with NBC and Fox trying to compete with ESPN, the easy move is to pluck its high profile talent. This backs ESPN into a corner: Does it try and match the rumored offers – I’ve heard anywhere from $600k a year to $800k for Andrews, Beadle and Nichols – to retain talent, or let them walk and find the next rising star? I think it’s clear from these four departures that ESPN has made a decision.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with SportsNation, a show Thompson co-hosted. A potential candidate (it’s early, so this is just speculation): Sara Walsh, who is now hosting Sportscenter on the weekends, or ESPN could just host-by-committee.