ESPN on Monday announced that it is canceling its late-night sports show, “Barstool Van Talk,” less than a week after the program featuring Barstool Sports personalities Dan Katz, otherwise known as Barstool Big Cat, and PFT Commenter debuted.
“Effective immediately, I am cancelling ‘Barstool Van Talk’,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement. “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content. Apart from this decision, we appreciate the efforts of Big Cat and PFT Commenter. They delivered the show they promised.”
The first and only episode of “Barstool Van Talk” aired Wednesday at 1 a.m. on ESPN2. It drew an overnight rating of .05 and 88,000 viewers. Sam Ponder, the host of ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” was among those who criticized Barstool Sports for its history of misogynistic blog posts after the site’s partnership with ESPN was announced. A day before “Barstool Van Talk” debuted, Ponder tweeted about such a post that Barstool Sports once wrote about her. In audio that has since been removed from Barstool’s site, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy also repeatedly referred to Ponder as a slut. ESPN issued a statement about those comments last week.
“The comments about Sam Ponder were offensive and inappropriate, and we understand her reaction,” Burke Magnus, the executive vice president for programming and scheduling, said in an email to The Washington Post. “She is a valued colleague and doing a great job for us. As stated previously, we do not control the content of Barstool Sports. We are doing a show with Big Cat and PFT, and we do have final say on the content of that show.”
Jim Miller, who wrote the definitive book about ESPN, tweeted Monday that “criticism from outside was matched by criticism from inside ESPN” and Skipper “placed great deal of import on the [latter].”
Big Cat and PFT Commenter, who will continue to host their popular podcast, “Pardon My Take,” issued the following statement:
“We are very disappointed to hear that Barstool Van Talk has been cancelled by ESPN. We had a great time working on the show and were extremely excited about the future. Thank you to all the Award Winning Listeners/Watchers for supporting us, and thank you to all the great people who worked alongside us at ESPN and Embassy Row. Although we are heartbroken, Pardon My Take will continue to get bigger and stronger every single day. … In times like these, we remember what a great philosopher once said: Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day.”
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