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Katie Nolan, Digital Sports Media Upstart, Leaves ESPN

Katie Nolan ESPN
Invision for Clio Awards

Katie Nolan, who captured attention in recent years for her facility with digital sports media, has left ESPN about four years after jumping to the Disney sports outlet from Fox Sports.

Nolan on Wednesday released a statement on social media telling followers that “I no longer work at ESPN. I’m really grateful for my time here. I made incredible friendships and valuable mistakes.” She joined the company in October of 2017.

“We thank Katie for her contributions to ESPN and wish her luck in the future,” ESPN said in a statement.

While Nolan contributed to several of ESPN’s traditional TV programs, she was better known for her work on some of its nascent digital outlets. In addition to hosting her own digital series on ESPN Plus, “Always Late With Katie Nolan,” she also led a podcast, “Sports? With Katie Nolan” and co-hosted a version of “SportsCenter” on Snapchat. She also took part in some of ESPN’s recent programming experiments aimed at luring younger viewers. In 2019, she held forth with several other analysts during a stream-cast of Game 2 of that year’s NBA Finals. Nolan and crew were superimposed at the bottom of the screen while the game played above them, along with pop-up graphics that included emoji and pieces of data.

“We see an opportunity to reach younger people who are changing the way they consume content,” Nolan told Variety at the time.

She first rose to prominence while hosting the program “Garbage Time” at Fox Sports. Her hire was emblematic of ESPN’s desire to make new inroads with digital audiences. Nolan hadn’t spent hours crunching player data, but had cultivated an irreverent tone, initially sparking notice with a blog she started before working in the media industry professionally. One of her first roles at Fox Sports was working as a digital correspondent for “Crowd Goes Wild,” a Fox Sports 1 program hosted by Regis Philbin.

In her social media statement, Nolan suggested life during the coronavirus pandemic was partially responsible for her decision to step away. “This year of slowing down has affected me on a cellular level,” she said. “What’s next for me is to figure out how/where/when this new me can use the skills the old me acquired to make the stuff I think needs making. And maybe a vacation?”