A few of the ESPN personalities who renewed and/or signed contracts in 2012. (ESPN Images)
Below is a small sampling of the hundreds of ESPN contract renewals and/or new signings in 2012
Mary Jo Fernandez
Mel Kiper Jr.
Stephen A. Smith
Jeff Van Gundy
Scott Van Pelt
ESPN’s Talent Department, born in 2008, was created to recruit, manage, coach and retain the more than 1,000 commentators the company employs — from TV/radio personnel to digital/print reporters to international staff.
“The realization was that production folks who had worked closest with commentators were understandably focused on producing content,” said Laurie Orlando, Senior Vice President, Talent Planning and Development, who returned to ESPN in ’08 to help start the department.
The talent office has become an important resource and differentiation point for ESPN.
“We have a year-round planning and development strategy, in collaboration with day-to-day production staff and management,” Orlando said. “For each sport, we meet to talk about talent a week or two after a season ends or at a set time for SportsCenter anchors, reporters or radio hosts.
“At those points, we’ll review the season, discuss who we’d like to renew, whose skills we can develop through training [ESPN coaching resources include interviewing, vocal quality, presence/performance] and who from the outside may be available now or in the future to make us better,” she said.
Contract planning also takes into consideration the length of ESPN’s programming rights deals. continue reading…