ESPN has cancelled Barstool Van Talk after one episode on its Tuesday night spot at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN2, the network announced.
'Barstool Van Talk' was a late night show adapted from the popular podcast Pardon My Take, which has stayed atop the sports podcast rankings since its debut in February 2016. The show is hosted by Dan Katz, better known as Big Cat, and PFT Commenter.
ESPN president John Skipper issued the following statement:
"Effective immediately, I am cancelling Barstool Van Talk. 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."
Pardon My Take issued the following statement on Twitter:
"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/Waters 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. Please subscribe to Pardon My Take, unsubscribe and resubscribe, and leave a 5-star review to help take some of the sting off this for us.
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.
Love you guys,
Big Cat, PFT and Hank"
The debut episode, which averaged 88,000 viewers, included an interview with SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt, who is a recurring guest on PMT. Several other ESPN employees like Rachel Nichols and RyenRussillo, also make recurring appearances on the podcast. Dan Patrick was slated to be the guest on the second episode of the show on Tuesday night.
In the days leading up to the show's debut, NFL reporter Sam Ponder expressed her “disappointment” in ESPN's decision to bring on Barstool personalities onto the network, citing the website's past history of misogyny. Ponder welcomed Big Cat to ESPN in a tweet with a screenshot to a 2014 blog post by Barstool Sports. The blog included lewd language referring to Ponder, but it was not written by Katz. It was added as an editor's note by Barstool founder Dave Portnoy.
Portnoy held an "emergency press conference" at the Barstool headquarters in New York City on Monday afternoon.
Here are a few quotes from Portnoy's address:
• "I actually get why ESPN cancelled the show. The executives there were put in a box. Sam Ponder, I'm not even made about her tweet. That was a grudge move. We attacked her. She waited for three years to drop revenge on our heads the night before and she got accomplished what she wanted to get accomplished. she got the show cancelled."
• "I feel bad for PFT. I feel bad for Dan because the show was very good. It crushed it in the one o'clock hour. For a debut, I think it was excellent so I feel bad about that. Here's what I don't feel bad for and what's reinforced what I already knew. This is exactly why Barstool Sports has to exist. It has to exist because we're one of the few places, maybe the only place on the internet where we don't let agendas dictate what we do. Three years ago, I guess I called Sam Ponder a word that I wish I took back so this wouldn't have happened. I don't take back the rift. I don't take back any of it. Because that's how we act for 15 years. People who follow this company know we just talk, shoot the s---, try to be funny, don't let PC America get the best of us. We'll continue to do that. That's why ESPN had to turn to us. ESPN needed us more than we need them. Everyone is saying 'ESPN is not cool', 'No one is paying attention to ESPN.' They're all paying attention to the Barstools of the world? Why? Because we're authentic. Issues like this don't happen. They got pushed around. Anyone who thinks the ESPN executives want to cancel this show are nuts. They're a Walt Disney Company. They have to cater to what all the complaints and the few say. We do not. We will not. This is not our first controversy."
• "John Skipper is saying he thought he could distance himself from Barstool. Don't know what that means. You hired Barstool. The deal was with Barstool.The reason you needed us is because we're Barstool. That's why this audience exists and it's not going anywhere. All this does is just reinforce why we're the fastest-growing media company in the world because we don't care about this. We will suffer a couple setbacks. We will take a couple L's. In the end, it just makes us stronger, stronger, stronger because we're not changing. I haven't apologized for that rant. I wish I hadn't used that word because three years ago, it was a very different social climate and we were ranting on something I thought was fair. It's weird how people will do that with Barstool: They'll look and say 'What we said five years ago doesn't count but we will count what Barstool said five years ago against them.'"
Portnoy ended his speech by hinting that Barstool could add some subscription model in the future "because we're willing to sacrifice outside pressures which will dictate what you do to keep our content real." He also noted that Barstool Van Talk could continue somewhere else but nothing was specified.