[Quoted] Dan Le Batard and ESPN ‘mutually’ agree to move on

“Dan Le Batard put up ESPN’s best podcast numbers by far. Curious to see (a) if he lands with Spotify, Ringer, etc. and (b) if ESPN has new plans for the podcast space or if it returns to being recycled radio shows…”

Sports talk radio has been playing in the background most of my life. I listened because I wanted to be them, then because I was them, and later because I missed being them.

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz has been my fix for the past – oh goodness – at least five years. It’s occasionally smart social commentary wrapped in stupid morning zoo radio. Like Jim Rome or Scott Van Pelt, they never take sports too seriously.

But that irreverence and continued meandering into the culture war was a relic of former boss John Skipper’s ESPN, not Jimmy Pitaro’s strict “stick to sports” network.

So it wasn’t surprising at all to learn that Le Batard and ESPN were parting ways. What I was most curious about as a media researcher is how it would affect the podcast space. Digital audio is where Le Batard increasingly found himself resigned, but he turned it into an impressive brand rivaling that of Bill Simmons.

I think, like Simmons, it’s going to help Le Batard become a rare post-ESPN success story. Meanwhile ESPN has to decide if it’s going to devote resources to developing new names and ideas that play to the unique podcast space, or just toss in replays of Mike Greenberg and PTI and call it a day. Is it worth it to a media enterprise that is focused on TV and streaming video, owned by an even bigger media conglomerate focused on all of that plus movies and theme parks?

It’s a lot to consider. Thanks to Brian Stelter for using my questions to get the conversation started.

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