Katie Nolan

On the latest episode of her podcast, Katie Nolan revealed that she’s agreed to a new contract with ESPN.

But the producer and co-host of Sports? with Katie Nolan, Ashley Braband, was among the 300 employees laid off by the network on Nov. 5. That left the show in temporary disarray and a podcast wasn’t recorded last week.

Nolan told fans on Reddit that everyone involved with the show was figuring out what to do after Braband’s firing. Would she still be allowed on the podcast? And if so, how could they go on as usual knowing that Braband would be leaving the company in a few weeks?

But Braband is indeed still on the podcast — for now — joining Nolan to discuss the bad news on the Nov. 17 episode.

“We didn’t know this was happening,” said Nolan. “Some of us didn’t know this was happening to the point where they recently signed a contract. And so we are now in a situation where this is the only thing I have to do, and now I have to do it alone, I think.”

Nolan explained that she signed her new deal before knowing that Braband would be laid off (after 13 years with the company), adding that she probably wouldn’t have done so if she knew what was going to happen.

“There was a lot to weigh with that,” said Nolan. “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.”

Yet Nolan also acknowledged that finding a job during a pandemic would have been difficult and that was a major factor in signing a new contract. As a result, however, the deal was “a lot less favorable” than what she normally would’ve agreed upon.

Were the “less favorable” terms financial? Nolan’s original deal with ESPN paid her more than $1 million annually, according to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand. Having joined the network in October 2017, that presumes she originally signed a three-year deal.

Or was Nolan referring to her role at the network and a support system for creating successful digital content? Former Awful Announcing writer Alex Kaufman noticed that ESPN hasn’t appeared to give Nolan much backing with recent moves.

Nolan’s new contract might reflect the network’s difficulty in finding a featured role for her. Just a year ago, ESPN seemed committed to putting Nolan in a better position to succeed, moving Always Late with Katie Nolan from streaming on ESPN+ to an on-air slot on ESPN2.

Perhaps the pandemic and remote production becoming necessary ultimately hurt the show. (Even afternoon staples like Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption were affected.) But the network may also feel that Nolan’s edgier approach might work better as a panelist on Highly Questionable, guest on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, and host of her own podcast.

Depending on the terms of Nolan’s deal, maybe ESPN will try another late-night show when circumstances return to normal. Yet the history of sports programming in that kind of format also hasn’t been rewarding, which possibly compelled Nolan to settle for something she may not have accepted otherwise.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.