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In 2017, under then-president John Skipper, ESPN signed Katie Nolan to an eye-opening contract for over a million dollars per year. While the network didn’t have a clear plan for Nolan, who came over from Fox Sports, it highlighted her signing with an ESPN+ show, Always Late.
Readers have recently noticed that Nolan has changed her Twitter bio to refer to her weekly show in the past tense. Archive.org/web shows Nolan made the change sometime in 2021.
Always Late has not aired in over a year, which some viewed as a hiatus during the pandemic. But that isn’t the case. Sources tell OutKick that ESPN has quietly ended Nolan’s show.
When reached by email, ESPN confirmed to OutKick that the show would not return.
Nolan once compared Always Late to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. However, it never took off.
In 2019, ESPN moved Always Late off ESPN+ to ESPN2, after failing to draw significant users to its streaming platform. Nolan’s show didn’t work on linear TV either.
The ESPN2 debut of @katienolan's Always Late got a 0.03 rating last night.
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) September 27, 2019
Always Late was a costly swing and a miss. In addition to Nolan’s seven-figure salary, ESPN tried to bolster the show with an expensive behind-the-scenes staff, all to no avail.
Now that Nolan’s major platform is gone, it raises some questions about her long-term future at ESPN. Though in the short term, she is staying put. Nolan just re-signed with ESPN last year to continue her podcast, Sports?, and her regular appearance on ESPN’s Highly Questionable, another program with a cloudy future.
Nolan’s latest extension didn’t come with as much fanfare as her first signing did, but it wasn’t without noise.
Around the same time of the deal, ESPN laid off Nolan’s podcast producer and co-host, Ashley Braband, and Nolan hinted then that had she known Braband wouldn’t return, she may have also left:
“There was a lot to weigh with that,” Nolan said in 2020. “It’s also very difficult for me to have just told a company I’m going to be here for a little bit, and then have this happen in a situation where normally I’d be like, ‘Well, then I go.’ But now, I can’t do that.”
Given Maria Taylor’s absurd demands, this is a breath of fresh air for ESPN.