It’s a watershed day for mass adoption of advanced statistics in sports television: Nate Silver is coming to ESPN.
The New York Times broke the story last Friday that Silver, the baseball wonk-turned-political prognosticator who accurately predicted the results of the last two presidential elections nearly to the percentage point, was jumping to ESPN. The Times itself had hosted FiveThirtyEight, Silver’s popular blog, for the last three years.
(Note: Nate Silver is no relation to the author of this article.)
An ESPN press release Monday confirmed the hire, of Silver in a “multi-faceted role”:
The site’s new incarnation will allow Silver to return to his sports roots while expanding his approach to numerous disciplines, including economics, culture, science and technology, and other topics. FiveThirtyEight will also continue to provide data-driven coverage of politics, including forecasts of the 2014 and 2016 elections. The site will extend ESPN’s leadership in using data and analytics in its cross-platform storytelling.
FiveThirtyEight will become a self-branded site, under ESPN, much in the tradition of Grantland, the website edited by longtime ESPN personality Bill Simmons; with Silver as editor-in-chief, the new FiveThirtyEight will add other writers as well. Silver will also contribute political analysis to ABC News.
Silver was one of the first principles of the sabermetric shop Baseball Prospectus, before branching out into politics starting with the 2008 campaign. In non-election years, the FiveThirtyEight site has taken its number-crunching to everything from sports to the Academy Awards to public opinion, although it does occasionally provide analysis of far-away election outcomes.
The Times report had stated Silver will contribute to Keith Olbermann’s new ESPN show, although that was not part of the press release.