ESPN is interested in Derek Jeter — if Derek Jeter is interested in TV.
Jeter stepped down as CEO of the Miami Marlins on Monday. The 47-year-old didn’t elaborate on his future plans beyond the Marlins front office.
But ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro just happens to be a huge New York Yankees fan and the Worldwide Leader in Sports would love to get into business with the former Yankees captain, according to sources inside ESPN who declined to be named.
ESPN has already established a relationship with the five-time World Series champion.
ESPN Films announced a multipart documentary about Jeter called “The Captain” that will air on the network and ESPN+ later this year.
Directed by Randy Wilkins, the documentary is being executive produced by Spike Lee, Mike Tollin, Mandalay Sports Media, Excel Media, and former ESPN content chief Connor Schell. It’s being produced in association with The Players’ Tribune and MLB.
Following Other Legends
Landing the Hall of Famer would mark another big win for ESPN.
The network is poised to announce the hiring of Troy Aikman for “Monday Night Football” after 20 years at Fox Sports.
ESPN previously forged a unique talent-sharing relationship with Fox over Jeter’s former Yankees teammate, Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod calls regular-season MLB games for ESPN, then shifts to studio analysis for Fox during the MLB postseason.
If Jeter does want to follow the path into broadcasting blazed by other MLB legends like David Ortiz and Cal Ripken, ESPN could have plenty of competition.
Competition from Fox, Turner
Fox and Turner Sports control TV rights to the MLB postseason. Fox will air the World Series through 2028. Don’t count out the Yankees’ own YES Network, which exhaustively covered Jeter’s 20-year MLB career.
While ESPN could not offer Jeter a chance to call the Fall Classic, it could entice him with other roles.
ESPN recently announced a new “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech and analysts David Cone and Eduardo Perez. Adding Jeter to the mix, even on a limited basis, would create buzz for the network’s Sunday night game telecasts.
“It would be a no-brainer,” said one source.
A JeterCast Next?
Following the success of its “Monday Night Football” ManningCast with Peyton and Eli Manning, ESPN is planning a “Kay-Rod” alternate telecast with Rodriguez and Michael Kay.
But that duo is only expected to call about half of this season’s 25 “Sunday Night Baseball” games. ESPN could offer the Yankees legend the chance to do his own JeterCast on ESPN2 or ESPN+.
“There’s a lot of possibilities,” said another source.
Pitaro has shrewdly used his ESPN+ streaming platform to establish business relationships with superstars like Manning, Jeter and Tom Brady.
In the case of Peyton and Eli Manning, ESPN used that relationship as a basis to forge a bigger, more extensive partnership. Is Jeter next?
Of course, it’s all contingent on Jeter wanting TV. But one of his first moves after retiring was to found his own media company, The Players’ Tribune.
“I think he would be spectacular as a broadcaster,” said consultant Lee Berke. “With the advent of the ManningCast, there’s a variety of ways for athletes to get involved in media.”