FiveThirtyEight moves to ABC News, continuing ESPN transition away from politics and personality-focused sites

FiveThirtyEight's homepage on April 17, 2018.

Earlier this year, Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead reported that ESPN was “exploring its options to sell or otherwise divest from” FiveThirtyEight, the Nate Silver-led data-driven politics, sports and culture site they bought in 2013 and launched in March 2014. Now, that’s come to pass, but in an interesting fashion, with the site only moving internally within Disney and heading to ABC News.

Silver shared the news on Twitter Tuesday:

Some personal news… FiveThirtyEight is leaving ESPN… but not going very far. Our new home is ABC News! We’re super excited to work with @ABC and combine our strengths with theirs as we tackle the 2018 and 2020 elections and other news stories.

He added that this doesn’t mean they’re leaving the sports world, though, and that ESPN will still promote their sports stories:

I really want to thank the 538 staff for their amazing work—and thank ESPN for helping us to build the site into what it is today. And thank you to our readers for your patience. Things may be slow-ish as we work though some transition stuff, but we’ll be back at full speed soon.

In a memo to staff, ABC news president James Goldston discussed the new addition:

I have exciting news to share. Nate Silver and his brilliant FiveThirtyEight team are joining ABC News from ESPN.

At a time when politics has never been more extraordinary, fascinating, and confusing, FiveThirtyEight will help us bring even more clarity and insight to what’s really going on.

They’ve won numerous awards, including Data Journalism Site of the Year in 2016, with their unique blend of creative smarts, compelling and witty journalism and statistical analysis. And I am hopeful that the combination of their skills and ours will lead to even more great work in the years ahead.Of course,

FiveThirtyEight is much more than just politics, and we will be working closely with them and with ESPN on their sports, science and tech verticals too.

Given that ESPN was reportedly exploring more dramatic options such as an outright sale or spinoff of FiveThirtyEight, it seems possible that offers there weren’t at the level they hoped and it made more sense to keep the site within the larger Disney corporate empire, but just transfer it over to ABC News. And much of FiveThirtyEight’s…


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