Stephen A. Smith and ESPN are nearing a blockbuster long-term extension that would see him signed with the Worldwide Leader through 2025, The Big Lead has learned. The deal, in total, will be worth tens of millions of dollars. A source cautioned that the deal has not been 100 percent finalized.
Smith's contract is up in the next year, and by the time new deal goes into effect you can expect to see more deliberate usage of Smith's time on television. Where in the past several years it has been a guessing game of when and where he'd pop up -- Get Up, SportsCenter, NBA coverage, you name it -- there will be a more regimented schedule for him on TV. You started to see this already with the announcement, made by ESPN today and reported by The Big Lead in August, that he will lead SportsCenter before NBA games on Wednesday nights.
Having the schedule be more planned and built around him gives ESPN the opportunity to better promote him. Smith is one of the few individuals in sports media who can singlehandedly drive viewership, and planning his TV time better makes it easier for ESPN to capitalize on his appearances.
The New York Post reported in April that Smith and ESPN were in lucrative long-term extension talks. A spokesperson for ESPN and a rep for Smith declined to comment for this story.