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Monday, June 24, 2024

ESPN Not Expected to Renew Bomani Jones’ Contract

  • Jones, the longtime on-air ESPN personality and current podcast host, will see his contract expire on July 31.
  • “The economic fate of people in sports media is getting dicier and dicier by the day,” Jones told FOS.
Jones' deal with ESPN is up July 31st.
(Photo by Gabriella Ricciardi / ESPN Images)

ESPN does not plan to renew the contract of journalist Bomani Jones, Front Office Sports has confirmed. His current contract with ESPN expires at the end of this month as the network separately laid off 20 on-air personalities amid broader cost-cutting moves from parent company Disney. 

Last fall, Jones signed a contract extension with ESPN to host his three-times per week podcast, “The Right Time with Bomani Jones.” His show is the second-highest-rated podcast among ESPN’s 35+ shows, but the network has not shown interest in renewing his contract. Jones spoke to FOS in New York before he made a speech at the Writers Guild of America’s Sports Solidarity Day held on the picket line outside of the CBS Broadcast Center.

“The economic fate of people in sports media is getting dicier and dicier by the day,” Jones told FOS. “I think the ESPN layoffs were the beginning of it in a lot of ways. Seeing what happened [with] the New York Times shutting down their sports department and they moved those people to other desks, but at some point they’re probably going to deem those people to be surplus and they’re not going to be there anymore.” 

Jones started writing for ESPN in 2004 and was notably a co-host for two ESPN TV shows, “Highly Questionable” with Dan Le Batard and “High Noon” with Pablo Torre. He’s also been a panelist on “Around the Horn” and appeared on shows such as “SportsCenter,” “First Take,” and “Outside the Lines.” His HBO late-night sports talk show “Game Theory with Bomani Jones” premiered in 2022 but was canceled after two seasons. 

Outkick first reported Jones’ pending ESPN departure.

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“Streaming can only to me become profitable if there are fewer players in the game, we just have so much stuff,” Jones said. “There is money being made on streaming, there just is a lot of money being spent on streaming that doesn’t necessarily generate the returns that one would expect.”

Notable on-air personalities let go last month by ESPN include Jeff Van Gundy, Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman, Suzie Kolber, Keyshawn Johnson, Todd McShay, and Gene Wojciechowski. FOS reported that ESPN also is not expected to renew the contract of NBA analyst Vince Carter. Disney is open to selling a stake in ESPN to a strategic partner, with the NFL, MLB, and NBA being discussed as potential suitors. 

“The idea of selling stakes to the leagues, I don’t even understand it,” Jones said. “Logically I don’t. I don’t know why that’s a winner for the leagues, the leagues can’t be the only people who would be willing to buy such a stake. I don’t understand how that works.”

Among concerns for both the WGA and Jones is artificial intelligence’s impact on sports media. 

“There’s a level of creativity that the computers are never going to be able to replace that will always necessitate people,” Jones said. “What AI can do is write a game story. There’s a lot of things in our world that AI can do that really can affect the employment prospects that a lot of us have in this game.”

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