ESPN Canceled Their ‘Barstool Van Talk’ Show After One Episode

When ESPN announced PFT Commenter and Barstool Big Cat were getting their own weekly late night TV show on ESPN2, it surprised many considering the once adversarial nature of ESPN and Barstool Sports. However, in recent months there had been an obvious change as more and more ESPN personalities were popping up on Pardon My Take and other Barstool properties.

So, last week, Barstool Van Talk debuted on ESPN2 to moderate ratings of 88,000 (not bad for 1 a.m. ET), but also to a great deal of controversy. The biggest point of contention came from ESPN’s own Sam Ponder, who was very upset to see Barstool represented on ESPN after sexist remarks made about her in both a column on the Barstool website and comments made by founder Dave Portnoy on a podcast.

While she originally was upset thinking Big Cat was directly responsible for the comments, she stood by her outrage saying you can’t separate the two. There were plenty that ripped ESPN for partnering with the site that has had issues with misogynistic and other problematic content in the past, and on Monday, the company announced they were canceling the show after one episode due to those complaints.

ESPN president John Skipper thanked PFT and Big Cat for delivering the show promised, but noted that they were wrong in thinking they could separate that TV show from the overall content of Barstool. The biggest problem in doing so was that the show was called Barstool Van Talk, at the behest of Portnoy and Barstool.

According to Jim Miller, who is as knowledgable about the inner workings of ESPN as anyone, the pressure to cancel the show and cut ties with Barstool came just as heavily from inside the doors of ESPN as from the outside.

Big Cat and PFT released a statement on Twitter noting their disappointment in the news, but thanking everyone at ESPN they worked with on the inaugural and final episode.

It’s clear there was a misstep by ESPN in thinking people within the company that had been ridiculed or worse by Barstool would be OK with the partnership. While Pardon My Take has become a wildly popular podcast that has reach beyond the traditional Barstool audience, having a TV show branded with Barstool takes away any opportunity to distance it from the problems of the site.