Why ESPN Made Rick Reilly So Rich

ESPN is paying former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly boatloads of money. But he’s not the only writer Disney’s (DIS) sports giant has acquired recently. The WSJ ($) notes that ESPN has made a marked shift in the past year toward beefing up its sports reporting and commentary staff, predicated on a belief that sports highlights and clips have become a commodity.

“As more money moves towards the Internet, you’re going to have to have talent,” says John Skipper, ESPN’s executive vice president for content. “The talent is going to have to come from traditional media.” Someone like Mr. Reilly, he says, is worth a lot in such an environment. “Content is increasingly valuable, particularly differentiating content. There just are not that many guys who can provide that.”

Note that nowhere in the above statement does John Skipper refer to “sports.” That’s because his thesis, which we¬† very much agree with, applies to all sorts of content that was once controlled by a handful of outlets but is now a commodity. Clever fellow, that John Skipper.

Related: How To Make Money In Old Media: Stay In Old Media.

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