The big name personalities continue to leave the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN announced that Skip Bayless has decided to leave the company at the end of August, when his contract expires. Bayless' final appearance on ESPN2's First Take will be the day after the NBA Finals end in June. Deadspin is already reporting that Bayless is expected to join Fox Sports.
The surprising news comes just a day after multiple media outlets, including Sports Business Daily, reported that Mike Tirico is leaving ESPN for NBC this summer. The troubling thing about this mass exodus of big personalities is Bayless and Tirico have been absolute staples for the company, with Tirico having worked for the network since 1991 and Bayless counting 12 years of experience with the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
They're far from the only big names that have left the company or are in the process of bolting.
After firing Bill Simmons in May 2015, ESPN has parted ways with fellow big names, such as Keith Olbermann, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Tirico and now, Bayless. The latter four personalities left the company after the Wall Street Journal reported last July that ESPN is tightening its belt after losing 3.2 million American households due to viewers cutting their cable television service or downgrading to cheaper TV packages.
That same story alluded to tough negotiations that are likely to hit NFL Insider Adam Schefter, host/reporter Michelle Beadle and Tirico, who has served as Monday Night Football's lead play-by-play announcer since 2006. With Tirico reportedly leaving, we'll see how Schefter and Beadle's respective negotiations pan out.
The fate of Tirico or Bayless's respective positions hasn't been announced, but Sports Business Daily has already mentioned Sean McDonough as a top candidate to replace Tirico in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth.
In February, ESPN president John Skipper told Re/code that the company isn't shutting the door over the possibility of cutting the cable cords and being a standalone app like HBO Go.
"A number of people have expressed interest and we're in discussions with a large number of people," Skipper said about the network expanding its digital streaming options at the time. "I think other people will enter into some markets with lighter packages in this calendar year."