ESPN (DIS) has cancelled Barstool Van Talk after just one episode, citing error in its belief it could produce the show while maintaining its distance from Barstool’s offensive core content. Following the premier episode, NFL Countdown host Sam Ponder delivered a series of tweets expressing “disappointment” ESPN would “promote a company” that has attacked multiple women within the company. The ensuing backlash from Ponder’s colleagues forced ESPN’s hand. ESPN President John Skipper made it a point to note that hosts Big Cat and PFT Commenter “delivered the show they promised.”
Howie Long-Short: The premier episode drew just 88K people, down from the 139K that watched Jalen and Jacoby, in the same spot, the week before. You must note that the lead-in for Barstool Van Talk drew just 66K, down from the audience of 174K that Jalen and Jacoby followed. You can spin audience numbers to validate your argument on the show’s relative success, but I found it to be an odd partnership from the start. For Barstool to be great, they must be unfiltered and ESPN standards don’t allow for that. ESPN wants the Barstool fan base, but not the perceived “baggage” that comes with the Barstool brand. You can’t have it both ways.
Fan Marino: The Athletic, a subscription-based local sports digital publication, earned some negative publicity of their own this week with some rather tasteless commentary on their approach to business expansion. Co-founder Alex Mather said in a NY Times article that “we will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing, we will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.” Sounds like a nice guy, someone you really want to root for. It’s a shame, the site has a ton of talented writers (Steward Mandel, Seth Davis etc.) who deserve to be recognized for the quality of their work; not their association with Mather.
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