Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe’s Undisputed morning show could be headed for changes.
Chris Healey, coordinating producer of FS1’s top-rated studio show, is being promoted to a new role that’s will keep him in charge of Undisputed but also give him more input into other studio shows across the sports cable network.
Meanwhile, Undisputed co-star Sharpe is still in negotiations for a new contract, said sources. A proposed new deal for the Pro Football Hall of Famer is “at the two yard line,” said one source.
But the deal isn’t done. There’s still a possibility Bayless could end up with a new “embrace debate” partner across the desk with moderator Jenny Taft. Sharpe’s current deal expired in July, said sources.
Charlie Dixon, executive vice president of content for FS1, confirmed Healey is poised to take a “bigger role.” But he declined to give specifics. He also shot down a report the producer is leaving Fox Sports.
“He’s here and super-happy,” said Dixon about Healey, who joined Fox in 2015 after 10 years at ESPN working on studio shows such as SportsNation.
Dixon declined comment on Sharpe’s contract negotiations, except to say the former NFL great is “super happy” at FS1. The former ESPN and NBC executive added he’d be “mortified” if Sharpe left FS1.
With an annual salary of $5 million to $6 million per year, Bayless is believed to earn more than twice as much as Sharpe.
One TV executive who declined to be named said Sharpe deserves a raise. If the Skip vs. Shannon debates are not quite as entertaining as the old Skip vs. Stephen A. Smith brawls on ESPN’s First Take, that’s to be expected, he said.
“Skip’s the flagpole. Shannon drafts off of him. And he’s done it well,” they said. “Shannon doesn’t have to be perfect. He just has to be very good — and he is.”
FS1’s other studio shows include: Speak for Yourself with Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley; The Herd with Colin Cowherd; First Things First with Cris Carter, Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe; Lock It In with Rachel Bonnetta, Clay Travis, Todd Fuhrman and Cousin Sal and Fair Game with Kristine Leahy.
Dixon is happy with the progress of his two newest shows: Lock It In and Fair Game.
The sports betting-focused Lock it In “is super fun,” said Dixon. “It has the most smiles of all the shows we have here. For me, as a guy who doesn’t mind a friendly wager, I think it gets its point across.”
He’s happy with the caliber of guests Leahy’s landing for her one-on-one interview show.
“Any interview show when you’re doing daily is hard. But I’ve been really proud of the growth of the show and the guests she’s been getting. I think it’s super inspiring story. She was doing news and, all of a sudden, has her own show. It’s great.”
Looking ahead, FS1 doesn’t have any new studio shows in development. Dixon’s focused on increasing the audience for current shows in 2019 as they compete against ESPN’s studio lineup that includes Mike Greenberg’s Get Up, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman’s First Take, Tony Reali’s Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.
Said Dixon: “This year, for me, is just batten down the hatches and get the shows as good as they can be. I’m really happy with the overall lineup. I love the stable of talent we have here. Now it’s just continued growth.”