Nate Silver, the statistician/blogger whose profile rose considerably during the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, is leaving the New York Times for a job at ESPN that will return him, in part, to his sports roots.
Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight is moving to Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN from the Times, which has been his outlet since 2010. Silver, who got his start analyzing baseball stats, will build a team to cover sports and politics, as well as topics such as economics, culture, science and technology.
The site will exist independently of ESPN’s official site and will have its own voice, much like its more literary-toned website Grantland, the company said Monday. The ESPN deal will let Silver expand and improve FiveThirtyEight into a full-fledged online publication modeled after Grantland, which is run by Bill Simmons. ESPN will own the property.
“This is kind of a dream job for me, and the more we talked about it the more excited I became,” Silver said on a conference call. “It’s not just going to be a politics site or a sports site.”
The deal will also allow Silver to showcase his data-driven analysis on Disney-owned television channels including ESPN and ABC, where he is expected to contribute to political coverage.
Silver rose to prominence in sports but later was catapulted into the limelight because of his political writing.
Last year, he became a go-to statistics wonk for polling analysis during the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. He correctly predicted the outcome in all 50 states. In 2008, he got only one state wrong.
This is the latest high-profile hire by ESPN, which last week said it is bringing on the ever-combative Keith Olbermann to host a nightly show dubbed “Olbermann.” The broadcaster hosted political shows on MSNBC and Current TV. Both stints ended with fighting between Olbermann and his bosses.
The new hires come as Fox is preparing to launch a new sports network next month.