Taylor Rooks is getting ready to open another field of study.
The Bleacher Report standout and up-and coming Turner Sports broadcaster has signed a new multi-year deal to broadcast across both the digital-sports outlet and TV programs produced by the Warner Bros. Discovery sports division, even as she has secured a role as a features reporter for the new “Thursday Night Football” streamcast being handled by Amazon’s Prime Video.
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Rooks has been known for her coverage of the NBA. She intends for that to continue. But she also wants to make a splash with her time reporting on the NFL.
“I don’t want to be someone who can only do one thing, or be put in this box,” she tells Variety. “In this business, it’s really easy to throw people into something that’s confined. I view myself as an incredibly versatile broadcaster and I want to thrive in all of the settings.”
Rooks is the latest in a recent parade of sports-broadcasting notables to secure contract that allow her to work for more than one company. Indeed, several members of Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” roster – Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit and Charissa Thompson among them – all have maintained roles with their current employers, NBC Sports, ESPN and Fox Sports.
“We are not surprised someone else has recognized what she offers on the sports landscape,” says Tara August, TK. “These things are never easy, but as much as we want her to grow, allowing her to work with someone else in the sports space, it gave us pause, but we are happy to do it as it’s a tremendous opportunity and it just speaks to the insights she has. She is really able to talk to any and all sports and to have a great conversation,.
Rooks will be speaking a lot more in months to come. Under her new deal with Turner Sports, she will continue to conduct interviews for Bleacher Report, but also expand to conduct special interview segments and appearances for “NBA on TNT” and other Turner Sports programming.
“We are looking for other opportunities to extend her, beyond the TV and digital sides,” says August, and that could involve Turner’s NHL and MLB rights packages.
Rooks has become known for brining authentic chat and conversation to sports interviews. One way to do that is to highlight fan questions during interviews, but another way, says Rooks, is to drill down more deeply. Many sports interviews consist of “soundbites and headlines,” she says, but “there isn’t’ really a ‘let’s sit down and talk for an hour and talk about everything.’”
She says she’s eager to develop her NFL chops. “The NBA does a really good job of having stories that are very people-first, about who these NBA players are, what they like, what they don’t like, what their families are like. They do a better job of telling you about these players as a whole person,” says Rooks> “I really want to bring that approach to the NFL as well.”
Football was pervasive when Rooks was growing up in Georgia. “We lived, breathed and ate football,”: she recounts.
Amazon is depending on her to bring that enthusiasm to its games. “Taylor Rooks is an incredibly talented journalist, who has already established herself as one of the best interviewers in sports,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president, Global Sports Video, Amazon, in a statement. “We look forward to bringing her engaging and illuminating conversations to our Thursday Night Football coverage.”
But she will still be doing may of the things that have drawn her notice. She will continue to host the ‘Taylor Rooks X’ vodcast and live Twitter Spaces throughout the NBA season.
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