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Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight ‘on the chopping block’ at ABC News: report

Nate Silver’s data-driven analysis site FiveThirtyEight is reportedly “on the chopping block” as Disney-owned ABC News eyes budget cuts.

ABC News brass are purportedly set to make a decision on FiveThirtyEight’s future by the time Silver’s contract expires this summer, The Daily Beast’s Confider newsletter reported on Monday night, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.

The site’s performance is purportedly under review by ABC News president Kimberly Godwin, according to the report, which added that ABC could look to “offload” the FiveThirtyEight site in a sale.

FiveThirtyEight has never turned a profit. In another sign of potential turmoil, the site has failed to fill a number of roles during a recent exodus in top talent, including its managing editor, politics editor and sports editor positions.

Founded by Silver in 2008, FiveThirtyEight posts a mixture of data-focused content and analysis across politics, business and sports. The site also publishes Silver’s closely-watched polling forecasts ahead of key elections.

Nate Silver
ABC News has controlled FiveThirtyEight since 2018.
Amy E. Price

The Daily Beast said insiders have “lamented” a “lack of enthusiasm” at ABC to adopt a subscription-based model at FiveThirtyEight to drive profitability.

Silver previously held talks a potential sale of his site with The Atlantic and The Athletic in 2017, according to the report.

The report noted that Silver has faced “public criticism” after FiveThirtyEight’s prediction of a “red wave” in the 2022 midterm elections proved inaccurate.  

FiveThirtyEight Politics Editor Michah Cohen, FiveThirtyEight Statistician, Author and Founder Nate Silver, and FiveThirtyEight Senior Political Writer and Analyst Harry Enten
Nate Silver’s site publishes a mixture of business, politics and sports content.
Andrew Toth

 “There are no imminent decisions about our relationship with 538,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement to The Post. The spokesperson declined further comment.

In 2018, ABC News took control of FiveThirtyEight from ESPN in a rare exchange of assets between the corporate siblings. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed.

Questions about FiveThirtyEight’s future emerged during a period of upheaval in the media industry and the broader economy, where weakening conditions have sparked a wave of cost-cutting measures and layoffs.

In November, Bob Iger returned to his former post as Disney’s CEO as part of a turnaround effort at the entertainment giant. Shortly after taking the helm, Iger said a companywide hiring freeze implemented by his predecessor, Bob Chapek, would remain in place.

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