Ex-ESPN On-Air Host Rachel Nichols Joins Showtime

Veteran sports TV host Rachel Nichols has joined Showtime after leaving ESPN last year amid controversy between herself and a fellow colleague.

Nichols will serve as a host and producer for Showtime Basketball, which develops sports content across multiple platforms. Nichols recently appeared on Showtime Basketball’s video podcast All the Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, in which she spoke about her departure from ESPN.

“We are delighted to welcome Rachel Nichols to the Showtime Basketball family,” Showtime Networks Inc. senior VP of sports programming and content Brian Dailey said in a statement. “Rachel brings unmatched journalistic credibility, great familiarity with our roster and a work ethic that will take us to another level.” 

While at ESPN, Nichols -- who hosted the network’s daily NBA program The Jump -- in 2021 was embroiled in a controversy surrounding disparaging comments she made against fellow colleague and on-air host Maria Taylor. In a leaked 2020 phone call, Nichols stated that Taylor -- who is Black -- was chosen to host the network’s NBA Countdown pre- and post-game show to cover up the network’s “crappy” record on diversity. Nichols eventually apologized for her remarks, but shortly after was pulled as a sideline reporter for ESPN's 2021 NBA Finals telecasts. In August 2021, ESPN removed Nichols from all NBA-related programming and canceled The Jump.

 Taylor eventually left ESPN for NBC Sports.

Along with ESPN, Nichols has also worked at Turner Sports and wrote for the Washington Post as part of her more than 25-year sports journalist career. 

"I’ve been so fortunate to live my dream job alongside some of the best journalists in the business for more than 25 years, and this new development deal with Showtime Sports gives me my most broad playing field yet,” Nichols said. “They've asked me to produce, create and host new sports programming across platforms, working alongside Hall of Famers, multiple guys with championship rings and an uber-creative team behind the camera. We're going to have so much fun.”

Showtime’s basketball-themed content includes such Emmy-nominated documentary series as Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story and Shut Up and Dribble, as well as Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible, and more recently NYC Point Guards. ■

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.