Negotiations to get data guru Nate Silver to leave The New York Times for ESPN and ABC started shortly after the 2012 presidential election, when Silver himself became a news topic, Mike Allen reported in Politico's Playbook Sunday.
NBC and Bloomberg had also expressed interest in poaching Silver. But for many of the months, the negotiations were a battle between ESPN/ABC and the Times, who desperately wanted to keep Silver on staff because he was such a high traffic driver and represented the future of the type of brand blogging the paper wanted to create more of.
Silver had wanted to expand his political data brand to weather, economics and elsewhere, and the Times had developed a plan that would give Silver a staff of six to 12 bloggers, similar to Ezra Klein's Wonkblog at the Post, according to Politico.
But ESPN had deeper pockets. Politico reports:
ESPN has deep pockets, and the rich, multi-platform offer to Silver, funded mostly by ESPN, is a drop in the bucket. Under the deal, to be announced soon, his flagship will return to FiveThirtyEight.com, which currently clicks through to NYTimes.com. The business model mirrors Grantland’s: a strong, independent brand that ladders up to the bigger brand of ESPN (and, in this case, ABC News). Nate will appear on the air on ESPN and ABC, and will get “verticals,” or web hubs, devoted to a variety of new topics. He’s very interested in education, so there’s been a lot of conversation about that. And, of course, weather and economics. His Oscars predictions did well for The Times, and now he’ll work for the TV home of the Oscars.