Dan le Batard was so wrong that he is now opposing himself.
In 2016, on his radio show, Le Batard stated that arrogance in the sports-idea business led people to make decisions as if they were big-time free-agent athletes. Le Batard criticized Colin Cowherd and Skip Buyless for dropping out of ESPN for Fox Sports.
“You leave, you’re about to get lost, you’re going to do it for money and nobody’s going to know where you’ll find it,” Le Batard said at the time.
Cowherd and Bayless have performed well at Fox Sports. Each earned new multimillion dollar contracts after the original deals ended. The two are still in conversation.
Now, Le Batarde is following him through the doors of ESPN. He and the network announced that it would leave next month.
He was making about $ 3 million per year, a little less than two years left. And both sides eventually thought that the time had come to stop the conflict and get a divorce.
Le Betard gets to keep Stugotz and the rest of the children, while ESPN gets some financial relief and no longer has to deal with Le Batard’s headache.
There is life after ESPN. Many have proved it in many different ways. Now, Le Bétard will join SiriusXM, Spotify or any other podcast company or do their own thing.
He will probably expand beyond sports – and his small, but very loyal audience can operate in a subscription, direct-to-consumer world.
Since 2016, the world of media has undergone further changes. Le Betard does not really need ESPN and does not need it. On its network, it needs to focus on games and news that are not of strong interest these days for 51-year-old Le Batard.
He wanted to fake work inside the machine. But how long could ESPN support airing someone who was openly hating their actual product?
Le Betard went out of his way not to talk about the game. It was fine, sometimes even funny. But it was not a match.
ESPN slowly slashed Le Betard’s perch, crumbling, an affiliate from here, and finished an hour there, ending it.
He liked to say that he negotiated freedom rather than money as if $ 3 million per year was the minimum wage. This is always the golden prison for “fangs” in ESPN.
You can do all the things you want, but when Mickey Mouse is your boss, there are limits that come with big contracts. So while the new bad boys and girls on social media and podcasts can say what they want – even swear – ESPN still has rules.
Le Batard did not want to play by him, which is fine if you rate better. He did not work on radio and his TV show with his father was at its peak. It can succeed digitally.
So now, nationally, ESPN will have sports shows. In the morning, “Keishavan, J-Will and Zubin” is not perfect, but it is better than its predecessor, “Wingo and Julik”. At 10 in the morning, Mike Greenberg has more vanilla than Le Batard, but vanilla is a good flavor to sell in bulk because a lot of people prefer reliable flavors. Bart Scott and Alan Hahn (12 pm-2pm) get a good promotion nationally, followed by Max Kellerman from 2pm to 4pm
In New York, ESPN is still figuring out what it can do. It can return in an hour for “Humty, Canty and Rothenberg”, it can be transferred on the FM dial from 9am-12pm. Greenberg will lose its FM hours, but may be at AM 1050 in New York. “Bart and Hahn” can air before Colorman from 12 noon to 2pm and then “The Night Before Michael’s Show” featuring Chris Carlin and Larry Hardness.
They will all talk about sports. Le Betard can do his thing. He will probably rip to get publicity on ESPN, a pastime after people leave the four-letter network.
In 2016, Le Betard also criticized Bill Simmons when he quickly failed ESPN and Simmons’ HBO show.
“That’s another reminder, don’t leave ESPN,” Le Batard then said. “ESPN is a monster platform responsible for all our successes.”
Simmons recently sold The Ringer, the company he started after leaving ESPN, to spotify for a reported $ 200 million.
ESPN does not need Le Batard. But Le Bétard will be heard again.