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Amazon Plucks Ex-ESPN Talent As It Pushes Further Into Sports

  • Ex-ESPN talents Michelle Beadle and Trey Wingo will launch new podcasts with Wondery, which Amazon bought in 2020.
  • Amazon will explore ways to cross-promote Wondery’s “Murderers' Row” sports podcast lineup on Prime Video as tech giant strengthens its sports media grip.
Ex-ESPN talents Michele Beadle and Trey Wingo will launch new podcasts with Wondery, which Amazon bought in 2020.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon, which acquired podcast company Wondery in a 2020 deal valued at $300 million, is now boosting the audio network’s sports slate with new podcast shows from former ESPN stars Michelle Beadle, Trey Wingo, and Dan Le Batard’s Meadowlark Media.

Wondery’s new original programming debuting this month through the fall includes Beadle’s “Beadle Royale,” a weekly show covering sports and pop culture, while Wingo, the former “SportsCenter” host who worked at ESPN for 23 years until 2020, will host an alternative sports history podcast called “Makin’ Waves.” Shea Serrano, a former Ringer journalist, will also host a new untitled basketball podcast.

Wondery’s sports splash comes just before Amazon announces its Q2 financial earnings on Thursday as Prime Video nears its second season exclusively streaming NFL “Thursday Night Football.” Amazon will also stream the NFL’s new Black Friday game this fall and is expected to be a major player for the NBA’s next slate of broadcast rights. 

“We’ve done a bunch of activations around ‘Thursday Night Football’ for our [podcast] shows, and we’re constantly looking for ways to work together,” Wondery’s chief content officer Marshall Lewy told FOS. “I think Amazon’s commitment to sports across the board is really important to us, but we’re also looking at it from the Wondery lens as well, of we want a sports slate. Sports is the fastest-growing category in podcasting and we just see a real opportunity to lean into that area.”

Amazon is also one of the tech giants that could be fit to buy a piece of ESPN

Wondery’s deals with three ex-ESPN personalities in Le Batard, Wingo, and Beadle comes as Disney’s network laid off roughly 20 on-air talents in June and continues to part ways with longtime fixtures.

“From the time I started at ESPN until now, it’s a completely new universe,” said Beadle, who was at ESPN from 2009 to 2019. “The opportunity to not just go out and work somewhere else, but to go out and make your own place as we’re seeing with Le Batard and Wingo has done such a good job of it as well, it’s such a cool time to be in this medium. I love seeing people that I enjoy, respect and loved working with being released into the wild.”

Le Batard, who left ESPN in 2021, will see his and John Skipper’s Meadowlark Media co-produce “Sports Explains the World,” a docuseries about sports and society now converted into a podcast with Wondery and hosted by Sam Dingman.

Amazon’s double-down investment in sports podcasting boosts Wondery’s existing lineup that includes “The Old Man and the Three” hosted by JJ Redick, “Men in Blazers,” and “The Lead” which launched with The Athletic in 2019.

“We want to create a sense that Wondery is a home for sports podcasts and sports content, and some of the best sports talent in the business,” Lewy said. “So I think that’s where coming out with this kind of Murderers’ Row of talent this fall, and this level of talent that we plan to continue, is really exciting to us. Success to us is that people start to think of us as a place for sports.”

Beadle will also maintain her TV gig as a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ broadcast team. The former “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up” host will have a co-host on “Beadle Royale” and is looking forward to the freedom of creativity enabled by podcasts at Wondery.

“To me it’s the most valued word I have in my career now — it’s free. It’s a free forum to do what you want and hang out with whom you want,” Beadle said of her podcast. “I think for a lot of us, myself included, fun has become the name of the game. There are so many jobs out there and I just wanna do the ones that are fun and I wanna hang out with people that I enjoy hanging out with, talking about things that I enjoy talking about. Podcasting, it’s all encompassing, it brings the best of all the worlds into one place.”

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