Stephen A. Smith Doubles Down on Late-Night Ambitions

Stephen A. Smith still sees a future in late night.

The sports commentator and journalist—who hosts First Take on ESPN and The Stephen A. Smith Show on YouTube and iHeartRadio—has broached the idea of taking his talents to late night in the past. He he tossed the idea around again on Monday while appearing on the Rich Eisen Show.

While discussing the future of The Stephen A. Smith Show, Eisen asked Smith if he was interested in bringing the show to a network. “I’m open to all the possibilities,” Smith replied. “I don’t limit myself. I could say one thing, but if a better opportunity presents itself, I’m certainly gonna entertain that.”

Reflecting on the operation he has built so far with the show, Smith explained, “My goal was to make sure that I established something that was appealing for linear television as well as for the digital stratosphere.”

He went on to cite the kind of content he’s interested in tackling—all of which just happened to be late-night shows.

“I’m also not married to just sports,” Smith said. “I’m a huge, huge fan of Bill Maher’s Real Time. I’m a huge fan of John Oliver. I was a huge fan of The Daily Show, first with Jon Stewart and obviously with Trevor Noah,” he said. “Imagining myself in front of a live studio audience is something that’s incredibly, incredibly appealing to me.”

But Smith made a point to note that he’s not adamant about the late-night daypart in particular. “It’s not the be-all, end-all. It’s not to say that I have to do that,” Smith explained. “But if an opportunity presented itself for me to do that on a weekly basis, it’s certainly something I would entertain—whether it’s in the sports stratosphere or the political stratosphere, because I like talking politics.”

While Smith seems open to considering a variety of iterations, his own vision sounds like it would in part be influenced by the late-night landscape.

“I’m never leaving sports. That’s my bread and butter,” Smith stated. “But again, I like that feel. Whether it’s late-night feel or whatever’s in the afternoon in front of a live studio audience, at least once a week.”

It’s not the first time Smith has expressed an interest in having a late-night show. In August 2021, Smith guest-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a night. Two years later, he told Sean Hannity, “I would love to be the heir apparent to Jimmy Kimmel.”

Smith doubled down on that desire this past March. A month earlier, Kimmel had told The Los Angeles Times, “I think this is my final contract.” (Kimmel’s current contract expires in 2026.)

Given those comments, Smith—whose contract with ESPN expires in July 2025—was asked by Front Office Sports if he’d be interested in replacing Kimmel. “I’d be very interested in succeeding him,” Smith told the outlet, noting that he’d only do so if Disney brass asked him.

In this week’s interview with Eisen, Smith seemed to indicate that some of these conversations are already taking place. Smith said that some opportunities have already presented themselves, “And I’m gonna entertain them as I move forward.”

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  1. Scott Rodgerson says:

    This guy is delusional, and I do not get how he’s still on the air at all. So many gaffes, and that video of him apologizing to Rhianna made me queasy.