This fall, fans can expect to catch the next installment of “The Pat McAfee Show” on ESPN’s prominent sports platforms. The show will be aired on ESPN’s cable channel, the free YouTube channel, and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, ESPN+.
According to sources, Pat McAfee has secured a lucrative deal with ESPN worth approximately $85 million over five years.
When asked about the contract, McAfee responded, “Interesting number,” but refrained from discussing specific figures. ESPN declined to comment on the details of the deal.
McAfee, aged 36, did provide some insights into why he chose to align with ESPN and addressed his departure from his FanDuel sponsorship deal, valued at a reported $120 million for four years. However, he didn’t elaborate much on the latter.
The ESPN agreement, amounting to around $17 million per year, includes McAfee’s role as a weekly analyst on the renowned “College Football GameDay” show. Furthermore, he retains complete control over all aspects of his performance, including the choice of guests, such as NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport (with a commitment to reducing the use of profanity).
With a recent addition to his family, McAfee sought to minimize the challenges of running his business and plans to delegate most of the behind-the-scenes work to ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol.
While the specific cable network for McAfee’s show has not been officially announced, it will likely air on ESPN itself. Under the deal, ESPN will receive 230 entirely produced shows annually, providing opportunities for advertising sales. The network believes that McAfee’s show will outperform SportsCenter and Max Kellerman’s “This Just In,” which currently occupy the 2-3 p.m. time slot on ESPN.
As ESPN seeks to streamline its on-air roster, Max Kellerman could face being cut or receiving a salary reduction. Kellerman’s current salary is estimated to be in the range of $5 million. ESPN may consider reallocating these funds to support McAfee’s endeavors. However, McAfee’s involvement with ESPN goes beyond being a mere TV personality.
The agreement with McAfee resembles Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, where Manning co-hosts “Monday Night Football” with his brother and serves as the lead producer for the series “Peyton’s Places” and other projects. Recently, Omaha Productions valued at $400 million during a fundraising round.
This model highlights the increasing involvement of athletes in sports shows. ESPN’s chairman, Jimmy Pitaro, is spearheading this approach. In McAfee’s case, he will contribute to “GameDay” and produce “The Pat McAfee Show,” featuring McAfee, A.J. Hawk, and their friends.
McAfee’s strong relationship with Pitaro and discussions with Disney CEO Bob Iger convinced him to join ESPN. The network aims to maintain the show’s existing format, as seen on YouTube.
While ESPN will handle much of the backend work, McAfee emphasized that he will personally pay his team and maintain complete control over production. He expressed excitement about the possibilities that ESPN’s platform, extensive talent pool, production capabilities, and access to the sports world offers. McAfee praised Pitaro for his vision and expressed gratitude for his support.
McAfee acknowledged FanDuel’s success and expressed appreciation for the team there. When asked about leaving FanDuel, McAfee clarified that it was primarily for streamlining its behind-the-scenes operations. Although their exclusive partnership has ended, future collaboration remains possible.
FanDuel declined to comment on the McAfee situation, avoiding any discussion of the dissolution of their partnership or McAfee.