Sports | October 27, 2017 9:53 am

Resistance From Within ESPN Caused Network to Nix Barstool Sports Show

Just one episode of 'Van Talk' aired on ESPN2 before sports net called it a day.

ESPN aired just one episode of Barstool Van Talk before it sending it to the junkyard. And at least one expert in the ways and means of the sports network thinks he knows why.

Per Sports Illustrated‘s Jimmy Traina, who hosts the podcast Off the Board, recently interviewed author James Andrew Miller, who wrote bestselling book Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. Miller told him that he believes the reason ESPN president John Skipper pulled the plug on the Barstool Sports show was because of pushback from within the company, especially that of Sunday NFL Countdown host Sam Ponder.

In the podcast, Miller identified to groups within the company who felt it needed to be taken off the air—those like Ponder who had already criticized Barstool Sports within the company and in public, and those who were “upset” by the show but hadn’t “gone to management” about it. Though he hadn’t talked to Ponder, he cited “many other employees, particularly women, who were very, very upset with [the show].”

ESPN green-lighted the show knowing that it would cause controversy, says Miller, but predicted wrongly that it would be able to be kept separate from the main sports network brand. “I just didn’t think they were gonna be able to navigate keeping the show and the podcast distinct from the larger brand,” said Miller. “Those guys have done an amazing job building up that brand and that brand identity, to the point where it’s very very hard to say, you know, ‘We’re the Yankees, but we don’t spend a lot of money and we don’t wear pinstripes.’”