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David Pollack is the latest casualty in ESPN’s mass, cost-cutting layoffs. And he’s one of the most surprising.
A former star linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs, Pollack joined ESPN as a college football analyst in 2009. He earned a spot on the network’s College GameDay team in 2011.
ESPN’s College GameDay is the most-watched sports news / studio show on cable and college football’s most-watched pregame show. And in 2022, GameDay recorded the most-watched regular season in the program’s 36-year history.
According to ESPN, the traveling college football pregame show averaged 2.1 million viewers last season and increased viewership in all key demographics. It saw an overall 8 percent increase across all viewers, and female viewership alone rose by 10 percent from 2021.
And Pollack’s energy an expertise was a part of that success.
Which is why college football fans across social media were stunned by the news.
So why lay off David Pollack — to fix what isn’t broken?
The 2022 College GameDay season also saw the addition of Pat McAfee to the panel. And earlier this year, ESPN signed The Pat McAfee Show to a five-year contract worth up to $85 million.
Potentially, they could keep McAfee on the GameDay desk so they don’t have to replace Pollock. But the dynamic will change, regardless.
Last season, GameDay outpaced its competition — namely, Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff — by 70 percent overall. But the competition is growing in 2023.
NBC will begin its Big Ten Coverage. And rumor has it, NBC is looking to send its pregame studio show on the road as well.
Of course, Pollack’s axing is just part of ESPN’s parent company Disney’s cost-cutting strategy.
They might be trying to save money. But messing with your network’s most successful show feels like a bad business decision.