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Colin Cowherd’s Move; Dan Le Batard’s Value; Monday Night Football Grade: Media Mailbag

Before answering this week’s mailbag questions, I have some media news:

Yesterday morning, Colin Cowherd sparked speculation by tweeting, “My life is about to get more interesting.” Media sources tell OutKick that Cowherd is shopping for property in Las Vegas for both studio space and a house. Sources add that the move relates to the increasingly lucrative opportunities in the sports gambling industry.

Cowherd, who began his career in Las Vegas, currently resides and broadcasts from Los Angeles.

Since the legalization of sports gambling, sportsbooks have looked to get into business with media talents to grow their brands and drive user sign-ups. Notably, Penn National Gaming acquired a 36% stake in Barstool Sports at a $450 million valuation. Since the start of the year, industry experts have pointed to Cowherd as a likely target for major gambling companies. 

Cowherd was among the first mainstream sports hosts to attach sports gambling to his brand with his “Blazing Five” segment, which has grown since he left ESPN for Fox Sports Radio and FS1.

Though initially a radio show, The Herd has simultaneously evolved into a digital brand across Facebook, YouTube, and the podcast services — all of which attract gambling audiences. 

Sources note that a timetable is not yet determined.

Here’s the mailbag:

“Is losing Dan Le Batard a loss for ESPN? You don’t seem to think of him as highly as other media reporters.”

Instead of giving you a yes or a no, I’ll go through the process of finding the answer.

On radio, Le Batard is not a loss. His show didn’t rate on terrestrial and was an awkward transition for affiliates’ national and local shows.

Le Batard’s loss on TV solely depends on how poor ESPN’s decisions will be in the near future. The network can easily move off Highly Questionable, bump Jalen and Jacoby back to ESPN2, and air SportsCenter from 2-3 p.m. ET. That’s the move to make. However, ESPN opted to keep HQ going with a rotation of hosts who can’t draw ratings. On HQ, Le Batard either maintained ESPN’s base audience or slightly increased it. Bomani Jones, Pablo Torre, Sarah Spain, Elle Duncan, and Katie Nolan instead bring the viewership below the base, yet ESPN still re-signed Nolan, Jones, Torre, and Spain to contract extensions this year. All four need Le Batard and his platforms. From this perspective, Le Batard is a loss for them and ESPN — an expensive loss, too.

Digitally, Le Batard was ESPN’s biggest podcast draw, though ESPN didn’t have the monetization down to industry standards. A rival company can and will make more from Le Batard’s show than ESPN has. But, yes, losing Le Batard hurts ESPN’s podcast network.

Then there’s the drama. Le Batard was a headache for ESPN, broadcasting every issue he had with management on air. Obviously, ESPN had to sign off on his leaving, so they must have calculated that his upside was no longer worth the downside.

That’s the process. Draw from it whatever conclusions you will.

“What grade would you give the MNF booth this season? Seems like there’s been less criticism of this booth than the last two years, but then again the bar was set pretty low.”

B-.

Yes and yes. The MNF booth has received nowhere near the same amount of criticism this year as it has in the past three years, not two. The bar was set low, but the new booth still had to improve. And it has.

Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, and Steve Levy are NFL-caliber broadcasters, but the trio is not on the same level as the A-teams on Fox, NBC, and CBS.

If ESPN/ABC get into the Super Bowl rotation and/or add a second package — Thursday Night Football is possible  — then they will probably look to upgrade. Kirk Herbstreit would likely be in consideration. That said, the trio could remain together to broadcast one of two packages.

Follow Bobby Burack on Twitter.

Disclosure: OutKick founder Clay Travis is an on-air host on Fox Sports Radio.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

21 Comments

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  1. Cowherd probably wants to get out of LA too I would guess.

    And if I were to give him advice….trash the hot woke girl sidekick for eyeballs. Leahy and Taylor went train wreck and no amount of superficial feminine fakery covers that up. Shoot Joy went and butchered her hair.

  2. I think Colin and Joy work well together because they’re both sharp and witty and she totally gets him. Joy is a beach woman though and seems to really like her lifestyle. I don’t think she’ll go with him. Colin is a smart business guy and realizes that California is too pricey. I lived in Nevada for 33 years. No state tax. From a political standpoint, Nevada is a sister state to California, Oregon and Washington, but when you make the type of money Colin makes, he’ll be fine. I think, if this move does happen, this will be Colin’s final stop.

  3. Leaving california seems to be the trend. Now if they could just replace Undisputed with OTC. Tired of hearing about Dak, Lebron vs MJ, TB12, and meaningless NBA friends who want to play together. Skip and Shannon claim to up 3 am let them take the early shift.

    • My educated guess on Colin is that as a product of divorce from questionable parents he’s trying to fill the void with materialism and fame. Don’t get me wrong…he’s been pretty good at it…but it doesn’t fill the void.

  4. I used to listen to Joy when she was on morning radio in Miami with Zaslow. Haven’t heard much from her since then except when she pops into a local show. I enjoyed her banter with Zas and Tobin, it wasn’t a very serious show.

    She has said she really enjoys working with Cowherd, Vegas isn’t that far from LA. Maybe she commutes for 3-4 days a week and does a remote the other to stay in LA.

    I’ve seen some really sexy shots of her, but the short hair is not my thing.

    LeBatard is a loss for ESPN in the digital realm for sure, and like Clay mentioned in the way he carries the woke baggage of the crew around him. Without him they aren’t going to have the same following.

    It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up, and if everyone goes with him. I don’t see how anyone in the main crew doesn’t, after the loyalty he’s shown.

    I wish the show would go back to what it was a few years ago and before, but I don’t think the woke can be reeled in at this point. It’s really gone downhill in the past 12-18 months.

  5. GWW….. glad to have you back! At one point, I thought Mason Baller, whatever his name is, might be you under a different moniker. I still probably disagree with many of your thoughts, but much appreciate the pushback on the “sista” terminology! Very derogatory. SP

  6. Two things can be true at the same time.

    Joy can be smart. And Joy’s job can be totally dependent on her looks.

    We have no idea how good Joy is at her job until we open the market to all females, including regular looking females.

    We do know that she would draw zero audience on her own, as if FS will allow her to take Colin’s seat if he’s leaving. Leahy’s show, on her own, was a complete flop.

    This diversity thing is a joke if there is such an appearance requirement involved.

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