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#pounditSunday, July 21, 2024

FS1 makes surprising change to ‘Undisputed’ format

Skip Bayless hosting

Skip Bayless had his longtime partnership with Shannon Sharpe come to a highly publicized end earlier this year, and there has been a lot of speculation about who might replace the Hall of Fame tight end. As it turns out, there is more than one correct answer.

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported on Monday that three former NFL stars — Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Irvin and Richard Sherman — will rotate as Bayless’ debate partners on FOX Sports 1’s “Undisputed.” Perhaps the term “debate” should not be taken literally, however.

Charlie Dixon, vice president of content for FS1, told Ourand that “Undisputed” will return on Aug. 28 with a slightly new format. Rather than taking opposite sides on every topic, Bayless and his co-hosts are expected to agree and have conversations instead of always arguing.

“It’s not like the debate part of sports television is going away because debate is intrinsic in sports conversations,” Dixon said. “I just feel like with the audience, and where America is as a consumer right now, there’s enough strife going on in everybody’s day-to-day that doesn’t have to just be debate.”

ESPN’s “First Take,” the biggest rival program of “Undisputed,” also moved to rotating partners across from Stephen A. Smith after Max Kellerman was booted from the show. Dixon says “Undisputed” will be different since Bayless’ co-hosts will be partners, not opponents.

“It gives us more opportunity to have bigger conversations and go deeper into conversations, versus coming in with an in-the-moment take that is either going to be right or wrong,” Dixon said.

Bayless is arguably the most famous debater in sports media. It is hard to imagine him hosting a show where he agrees with his co-hosts as much as he bickers at them, but perhaps FS1 is nervous about things getting personal the way they did between Skip and Sharpe.

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