ESPN Vet Michael Smith Joins Basil Iwanyk-Backed (Co)Laboratory As EVP And Chief Content Officer

Former ESPN host Michael Smith, whose 15-year tenure at the sports network culminated in a stint-co-anchoring SportsCenter with Jemele Hill, has joined (Co)Laboratory, a startup backed by film producer Basil Iwanyk.

Smith will be EVP and chief content officer and will also have an on-air role. (Co)Laboratory launched over the summer as a “sports-driven storytelling” venture founded by Iwanyk (John Wick, Sicario) along with Players Tribune founder Jaymee Messler and veteran sports executive Greg Economou.

Smith will lead the development of content across digital, audio, OTT, film and TV platforms and be the face of several projects. He will also provide creative direction, identify new business opportunities and revenue-driving initiatives, and help with on-camera development training for athletes.

Former ESPN co-anchors Michael Smith, left, and Jemele Hill. Scott Roth/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Prior to coming aboard the new venture, Smith parlayed a start at the Boston Globe into a 15-year run at ESPN, working as a reporter, insider, commentator, host, anchor and executive producer. His last phase was fronting a newly configured version of SportsCenter that aired at 6PM ET. That show’s trajectory was altered by Hill’s suspension by management over her tweets criticizing President Donald Trump.

“I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this,” Smith said in a press release. “We’re building a wholly new and disruptive studio model that will undoubtedly yield some of the best original sports-driven narratives out there. We see a major opportunity to develop new content formats, and reimagine how sports are covered in addition to how the stories around the game are being told.”

Messler called Smith “one of the most beloved and refreshing voices in sports media.” He added that he “was one of our early targets to bring on because he perfectly embodies what (Co)Lab stands for. He’s extremely talented, has original viewpoints, and shares our vision of creating a leading studio for premium, cinematic sports storytelling and elevating how athletes, brands and properties are telling stories. It was fortuitous that the stars aligned, and that he’s able to join our team.”

Smith is repped by WME.

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