There’s a big move ahead in the sports newsletter space. One of the more prominent figures there is Kendall Baker, who started his own Sports Internet newsletter in 2017, had it bought by Axios in 2019, and has headed up the Axios Sports newsletter since then. Baker announced earlier this week that he would be ending his run at Axios as of Friday, and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported Thursday that Baker and Axios colleague Jeff Tracy are now moving to Yahoo Sports. Baker then confirmed that on Twitter:
Hey folks, I’m going to @YahooSports! Couldn’t be more excited.
— Kendall Baker (@kendallbaker) July 27, 2023
A particularly notable part of that SBJ story is the quote from Yahoo Sports president Ryan Spoon, who was hired to that role last month. Spoon, who was at ESPN from 2012-2020 (including as senior VP of digital and social content, which included overseeing ESPN.com from December 2018 to 2020), told Ourand “I chased him for years” on Baker. So there’s a different timeline where Baker maybe winds up at ESPN instead. But now he’s heading to Yahoo, and beyond Spoon, he has a notable fan in Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone:
Completely stoked. My favorite sports newsletter is moving to @YahooSports. Welcome to the team @kendallbaker and @JeffreyTracy. Apologies in advance for all of my @49ers and @warriors input. ? https://t.co/89bHSvI2Nr
— Jim Lanzone (@jlanzone) July 27, 2023
Axios CEO Jim VandeHei also had good things to say about Baker:
Epic run @axios for @kendallbaker. He was, is, and forever will be one of the great entrepreneurial minds in sports journalism. He dreamed up an idea and willed it to life daily. It will be fun watching the magic he creates with a big @YahooSports sports staff. Sign up, fans.
— Jim VandeHei (@JimVandeHei) July 27, 2023
This is one of the first big moves for Yahoo Sports under Spoon, and bringing in a name like Baker certainly suggests a substantial commitment to a newsletter-focused strategy. It will be interesting to see what they do there, and what other moves they make. Also, this looks like the end of the specific Axios Sports newsletter for the moment; it will be worth keeping an eye out to see if that company decides to reenter that space down the road.