As we reported last month, Peter King’s contract at Sports Illustrated expires shortly after the Super Bowl.
King is the No. 1 NFL insider for the most popular sport in the country, and he’ll be coveted by the likes of NBC Sports, ESPN, and probably even the NFL Network (even though few in the industry think he’d go there). Sports Illustrated could have a hard time keeping King, who has been there for 23 years.
Might this week’s Yahoo-NBC Sports deal have an impact on King’s situation with Sports Illustrated? After speaking with media insiders for the last few days, here are some theories floating around about the landscape, and where King might fit in:
* ESPN, Fox, NBC, and CBS are all gearing up for a sports “battle” that will span the next decade. ESPN is at the top, clearly, and the other three networks are acquiring as much “property” as possible for a run at the Worldwide Leader. Property consists of, among other things, live sporting events, websites, radio stations and talent.
* Fox Sports is in good shape. It has the NFL, the World Series, NASCAR, and college football. Of the three competitors to ESPN, Fox had the best web presence thanks to the MSN portal … until the NBC/Yahoo deal.
* NBC Sports has the highly-rated Olympics, Sunday Night NFL, popular-again Notre Dame football, and if it ever comes back, the NHL. [UPDATE: Also, the EPL.] NBC is attempting to build up the fledgling NBC Sports Network (see here for the gory ratings details), and build its radio network, too. NBC’s major weakness was web traffic … until the Yahoo deal.
* CBS has the NFL, the Masters, the Final Four and SEC College football, and of the three networks, probably the best radio situation.
It could be argued – depending who you talk to – the trio are on equal ground. At the risk of making King out to be too much of a difference-maker … anyone else see Fox/CBS trying to get involved here?
For years, ESPN has been able to lure talent and pay them on the writing and TV side. Now that it has help from Yahoo online, will NBC Sports do the same? How handsomely would they pay him to have MMQB on NBC Sports.com, with Yahoo’s portal pushing it? Bob Costas can’t get ratings on NBCSN, but could a 30-minute show hosted by Peter King? For anyone that closely follows media movement, Ken Fuchs of Yahoo previously worked with King at SI.
I have zero guess as to where King will end up if he leaves SI, but some seem to think ESPN will step up, throw down a figure like $2 million per year, and King won’t be able to say no.