In January, Ryan Glasspiegel, of The Big Lead reported ESPN began exploring the sale of FiveThirtyEight. Finding a financially sensible suitor for the website, which was reportedly losing $6 million annually may have been difficult, but FiveThirtyEight will remain a Disney owned platform, moving from ESPN to ABC News.
“Some personal news… FiveThirtyEight is leaving ESPN… but not going very far. Our new home is ABC News! We’re super excited to work with [ABC] and combine our strengths with theirs as we tackle the 2018 and 2020 elections and other news stories,” said FiveThirtyEight founder, Nate Silver, via Twitter.
ESPN acquired FiveThirtyEight in 2013 following their successful coverage of the 2012 election. With political coverage becoming more polarizing and divisive, ESPN has prioritized a focus on sports since new president James Pitaro took over. ESPN did however state they began exploring a move for FiveThirtyEight while John Skipper, who led the 2013 purchase of the platform, was still at the helm.
“This is an exciting move for FiveThirtyEight and our staff,” Silver said in a statement. “With ABC we’ll be able to expand our political coverage at a crucial time, while maintaining a relationship with ESPN for our sports coverage.”
FiveThirtyEight will reportedly need to conduct layoffs with the transition to ABC News, but will ultimately expand their roster as they hire more journalists to cover politics.
“As storytelling around data and analytics remain an important way that ESPN serves sports fans every day, our team will continue to utilize Nate and the FiveThirtyEight experts to allow fans to benefit from their sports content,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president of content at ESPN.
With FiveThirtyEight staying within the Walt Disney family, ESPN will still be able to utilize their statistical expertise to provide sports content. With election polls around the corner, partnering with ABC News should allow FiveThirtyEight to focus on its strengths with better branded political coverage.