ESPN Is Trying Anything

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ESPN is reportedly bringing Barstool Sports personality PFT Commenter and supporting character Dan Katz on board for a late-night show on ESPN2. According to The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis, who first reported the news, the contracts aren’t finalized yet, but the show is being developed by production company Embassy Row, and will follow the same model as Men in Blazers and Garbage Time with Katie Nolan.

Curtis reported the show would face “an unusually rushed production schedule,” and “likely hew to Embassy Row’s low-fi model, in which ‘content producers become on-camera people for not a lot of money.’”

As Curtis pointed out, the pairing is “a weird kind of watershed for all parties.” He wrote:

When it was launched in March 2016, everything about Pardon My Take, from its title to its artwork, was an arrow aimed straight at the heart of ESPN (if a friendlier critique than the one offered by a lot of others staffers at PMT’s parent, Barstool Sports). ESPN’s legal department thought the parody was so close to its actual debate shows that it sent a letter to Barstool, parts of which PFT Commenter gleefully posted.


It’s not a shock that ESPN is willing to overlook Pardon My Take’s open antagonism, since ESPN is desperate to be seen as being in on the joke, but it is surprising that the network is willing to ally with Barstool Sports, which sells itself on poorly-written blogs, guilt-free Jew jokes, and, generally, humor that might have been cutting in the time when every comedian was a guy in a leather jacket. The entire network turned into a gibbering mass of executives championing decorum when anchor Jemele Hill tweeted about President Trump; now it’s eager to partner with a brand for which Broads, amirite? is a raison d’être, and to pander to an audience that yearns for the days when that could be said of all of sports media.

Then again, the Pardon My Take deal was reported the same day that ESPN announced an incomprehensible partnership with some ad agency whose grand thinkovation plan involves lightly editing old memes and trying to get athletes to post a certain thing on Instagram, so I guess they’ll try anything.