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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Barstool Sports says there was ‘mini-uprising’ at ESPN over show

ESPN

Why did ESPN partner with controversial sports media company Barstool Sports on a TV show and then pull the plug on the show after only one episode? It’s a great question, but Barstool Sports’ founder Dave Portnoy shared some insight about the reason for the cancellation.

“From what we heard, there was a mini-uprising (at ESPN),” Portnoy said during one of his humorous “emergency press conference” videos posted to Twitter Monday. “When I say mini, I’d guess 95 percent of ESPN employees actually like Barstool. And there’s a small minority of employees — there are people who didn’t like the show.”

Portnoy then said that ESPN executives wanted to air the show and approved of the content, but the problem is the greater parent company couldn’t live with the association to the Barstool brand and what comes with it.

“They got pushed around. Anybody who thinks the ESPN executives want to cancel the show are nuts. They’re a Walt Disney company. They got to cater to the complaints and what the few say,” Portnoy said in his video.

ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement announcing the cancellation that “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”

Barstool is a sports humor brand that proudly eschews political correctness in an effort to connect with its audience through its authenticity. They have been involved in many controversies over the years due to some of their offensive content.

What likely hampered the partnership with ESPN was the tweets of host Sam Ponder released before the debut of “Barstool Van Talk” on ESPN2. Ponder brought up sexist comments Barstool’s hosts had made about her in the past. What Ponder had rehashed is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of offensive content about ESPN Barstool has said or published over the years.

ESPN comes out looking bad because the swift cancellation indicates how much they miscalculated the backlash they would receive as a result of the partnership, as well as how they would respond to external pressure.

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