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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images

Stephen A. Smith is the face of ESPN. Can he be the face of ESPN+, too?

Driving the news: Smith will debut a new weeknight series on ESPN+ starting Monday. Unlike the debate shows he's known for, this will have more of a late-night feel, with A-list guests and a variety of original segments.

The big picture: As cable TV dies a slow death, ESPN is preparing to flip the switch to streaming. Right now, most ESPN+ content is live sports or docuseries, but a show like Smith's could help make the platform more of a daily destination for its 11.5 million subscribers.

Show details:

  • Name: "Stephen A's World"
  • Times: New 30-minute episodes will be available every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday night and available anytime on demand.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Smith will be the show's executive producer, and his production company, Mr. SAS Productions, will co-produce alongside ESPN.

🎙 Interview: I spoke with Smith about his exciting new chapter.

Format: Stephen A. has become a master at the performative parts of opinion TV, delivering daily hot takes — and viral clips — on "First Take" and other ESPN programs. This new show is a step in a different direction.

  • "I've always had an aspiration to do something with a late-night feel; something that brings levity to the situation," says Smith. "This show will allow me to be more lighthearted and show other facets of my personality."
  • "It's going to be the world according to Stephen A., but also the world Stephen A. lives in," which isn't necessarily all sports, all the time.
  • "You could see Snoop Dogg one day, Sean Hannity the next," he added. "You just never know because I'm friendly with so many people from all different elements of our society."

Tone: While the topics he covers might be similar to what he debates on "First Take," Smith says he'll approach them from a different perspective — and with a different tone.

  • "I want our guests to feel like they're coming here to be celebrated and have a good time; not to be challenged by me. I want to be more personable and fun loving and really invite the audience into my life."
  • "People see me on TV, they see what positions I take, they see what my belief system is. Now, I want to encourage them to call or FaceTime in. Challenge me, applaud me, hate on me, whatever the case may be: bring it all."

Stakes: "Stephen A's World" is essentially replacing Smith's radio show; a move he negotiated into his new contract because of how bullish he is on streaming.

  • "Direct-to-consumer is the future. It's foolish to ignore that. I applaud Disney and ESPN for moving in this direction, and I'm proud to be a part of it."
  • "Building the ESPN+ brand is a priority, and they've put the onus on my shoulders. 'The Boardroom' did exceptional work, but that wasn't daily. Neither was 'Detail' with Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant, God rest his soul."
  • "We have the UFC. We have Top Rank Boxing. But really, ESPN+ needs a signature show that folks know they can find when they [open the app]. I've accepted the challenge and now I have to go out there and make it happen."

Go deeper

Sen. Tina Smith: Access to banking is a civil rights issue

Photo: Axios screenshot

Equal access to banking and financial services should be protected under the Civil Rights Act, Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said on Thursday in an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: People of color, particularly Black people, risk being racially profiled in visits to banks, yet the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not identify financial institutions as businesses that must not treat black customers differently. "That loophole makes it hard for victims of racial profiling to win in court," a New York Times investigation found.

Ina Fried, author of Login
18 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 22 mins ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.