Monday, October 23, 2017

ESPN Canceling Barstool Van Talk is just another classic ESPN Move

Last week Barstool Van Talk was set to premiere in the 1AM time slot on ESPN2. The show featured Big Cat and PFTCommenter from Barstool's Pardon My Take podcast. Pardon My Take is one of if not the most successful podcast of all time, especially in the highly coveted 18-34 demographic.

 This seemed like a huge win for ESPN. The new show would bring in younger viewers who ESPN has been struggling to captivate in recent years. Also, it would come at a relatively cheap price. The cost of having two first time TV hosts at 1 AM couldn't have been very expensive.

And then the winds turned.

Barstool, as most know, has never shied away from controversial content. Throughout the years Barstool has made headlines by posting crass content that some people without a sense of humor consider offensive. As Barstool becomes a national brand this only seems to intensify.

Prior to the premiere, Sam Ponder of ESPN fired off a string of tweets voicing her displeasure for Barstool after they had insulted her in the past. These insults of course came after she had posted that blogs who "disrespect women" can't comment on Ray Rice back in 2014. Adam Best of formerly of Fansided (a sports website with a whopping 36,000 followers on Twitter) lashed out against Barstool as well.

The lashing out from these D-list sports media personalities lead to headlines in the papers. While some employees at Barstool lashed back out at Ponder and Best, Big Cat and PFTCommenter stayed out of the crossfire for the most part.

The first show aired and was relatively successful. Barstool Van Talk drew 88,000 viewers. Though this was down in terms of tota viewers from prior shows in the 1AM time slot on ESPN2, their lead in at midnight only had 61,000 viewers. The show picked up 44% from its lead in. Additionally, they were the #2 show in target demographics that day.

To put this in perspective, SC6 loses approximately 38% of their viewers from lead in PTI. SC6 also has a host who calls the president a white supremacist and tells her audience not to patronize advertisers of her network. That host was suspended, with pay, for her comments about advertisers and was not suspended for calling the president a white supremacist. Anyway, I digress.

 President of ESPN John Skipper issued the following statement, canceling Barstool Van Talk effective immediately. The show was scheduled to air Tuesday at 1AM through the Super Bowl.:

This is just a classic situation where ESPN is putting its finger in their to the wind to make a decision. They couldn't care less about ratings. Barstool Van Talk was an opportunity for cheap talent that could develop into a long term relationship that would help draw in more viewers, especially viewers in the 18-34 demographic.

Disney owns ESPN. If I was an investor in Disney I would have a lot of questions about the struggling ESPN. At every turn it appears that the network is sacrificing ratings and therefore revenue to please Twitter and critics. The network's apparent goal to become more and more politically correct has turned its brand from what was once a cool sports station into the punchline of a joke. As ESPN continues to pull these stunts the ratings will continue to plummet, and so will the network's bottom line.

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