OutKick reported Thursday that ESPN Radio fell a massive 53% year-over-year in the fall.
Clay Travis discussed the news on OutKick the Show, wondering if ESPN will soon give up on radio and simulcast its television shows across radio affiliates.
“I legit wonder if ESPN will just shut down ESPN Radio,” Clay says. “I wonder if, at some point, they will just put on ESPN television programming and do way completely with the ESPN Radio product.”
Clay goes on to say, “I knew that we were dominating ESPN Radio at Fox Sports Radio, but I didn’t know it had gotten this bad for ESPN.”
— OutKick (@Outkick) January 22, 2021
Thursday, I explained that there are several key points to take away from the fall book. Overall, sports-talk radio is down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which drastically cut the number of Americans commuting to work on a daily basis. In a normal year, the decline would not be nearly so high. However, I still believe the lineup would be down regardless, and likely by double digits.
“Industry experts initially called the new lineup weak, and they have not wavered from that initial assessment. OutKick then reported throughout the spring and summer that ESPN had ambitious plans to revamp ESPN Radio — but these efforts failed.”
I do expect the current ESPN Radio lineup to get another run next fall, when hopefully, COVID is far less of a factor. While Mike Greenberg will record stronger numbers from 10-noon ET than Dan Le Batard did, the rest of the lineup will likely draw alarmingly low numbers again. Thus, I agree with Clay that it wouldn’t be shocking to see ESPN eventually do away with its radio product and offer affiliates the option to air its TV shows — such as First Take, Get Up, and PTI — instead. Affiliates could decline and air more local programming, which could be more expensive but would be more popular in most markets.
Comment below with what ESPN should do with its radio lineup: