Rachel Nichols has returned to ESPN after a three-year stint with CNN/Turner Sports. The Northwestern alum is preparing for the Feb. 18 launch of a 30-minute show called “The Jump.” The 2:30 p.m. Monday-through-Friday offering will feature NBA players and analysts and originate from Los Angeles.
She also will contribute to “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines” and “E:60.” The Chicago Tribune spoke to her last Thursday.
You are back with ESPN. Why the move?
It was just an amazing opportunity. I get to be on television every day talking about a sport I genuinely love — the fun stuff that makes the NBA such a cool ride and the big-picture issues. In addition I get to cross into other (shows) to do some commentary and interviews. It’s a win, win, win, win, win, which is fantastic.
What is it about the NBA that compels you so?
The NBA has that up-close feeling. There’s a reason why the stars are so marketable; you feel like you know them. We call a lot of them by their first name. The fans can be two feet from them. Sometimes they fall into the stands and the fans are two inches from them.
Do you sense any concern from ESPN about declining ratings and the so-called cord-cutters, the people who no longer are willing to pay for cable?
It is definitely above my pay grade to solve or manage the cord-cutting issue. I can only say this: I worked at newspapers for a long time. And I understand what it is like to work for and be in the middle of a changing industry. And I think there is a difference between, ‘Hey, the model is changing.’ And, ‘Hey, the house is on fire.’ ESPN is still the number one cable network in terms of viewers. It’s hard to look at that and say, ‘Oh, wow, they’re in real trouble.’
What you say is, ‘Oh, wow, they have a changing model.’ And if those cord-cutters are cutting the cord because they are on their phones more, then how is ESPN doing in mobile? How is that business developing? I have no idea what the numbers are, but I do know that being scared of a changing model is not a very forward way of thinking and that it’s exciting when things change. Then there are new opportunities.
To read the full interview visit the Chicago Tribune where this article was originally published