Just a few months ago, there were talks of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith possibly reuniting, as Skip’s four-year $25 million deal is set to expire in September 2020, and naturally FOX Sports would have some serious competition for the polarizing sports commentator.
Covid-19, however, has reset all of that.
Most of the on-air talent across the sports media, including ESPN and FS1, have agreed to a temporary 15% pay reduction, at least until live sports resumes. With the contract expiration of Bayless looming, a pay raise doesn’t seem too likely as the bargaining chips have fell off of the table, meaning that the rival TV networks that could have driven up his negotiating leverage are also struggling with the pandemic.
It also doesn’t help that his sparring partners Shannon Sharpe and Stephen A Smith, both recently inked deals, with the latter making nearly $8 million annually, which is what Bayless likely would have made on his next contract. In all probability, Bayless will have a couple of options.
- Keep the same pay because flat is the new raise.
- Negotiate a one-year deal and reevaluate until the economy recovers from the pandemic.
Either way, it’s definitely a sticky situation to be in, even for a millionaire.
“This is the worst timing ever for Skip,” warned one media executive familiar with the negotiations. Fox declined to comment.