ESPN Cancels ‘Barstool Van Talk’ After Biggest Revenue Week Ever For Barstool Sports

After just one show, ESPN decided to cancel Barstool Van Talk, the WorldWide Leader announced on Monday. The 30-minute television show, which featured the Pardon My Take podcast duo from Barstool Sports (Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter), aired on ESPN2 in the 1 a.m. ET time slot.

Below is a statement from ESPN and President John Skipper, more or less ending the relationship based on not being able to distance themselves from Barstool’s content.

Below is a statement from Pardon My Take.

The cancellation comes less than a week after Barstool Sports and Facebook mutually agreed to end their college football tailgate show in its current format following just six episodes. Despite the news, Dave Portnoy — Founder of Barstool Sports — tweeted this past Friday that the sports and comedy brand had its best revenue week ever.

Earlier this afternoon, Portnoy addressed the Barstool Van Talk’s cancellation on Periscope and Facebook, with him saying that a Samantha Ponder tweet the night before the show’s debut together with a “mini-uprising” at ESPN caused the media company to cancel the show. In her tweet, Ponder referenced an offensive Barstool Sports blog post from 2014 that was directed at her.

Below is a transcript of most of Portnoy’s remarks.

“OK, emergency press conference as I’m sure most of you people know, or maybe not know. If you’re watching this, you probably know, ESPN just unfortunately cancelled Barstool Van Talk. The pressure basically that they got internally, primarily the Sam Ponder tweet, was too much for them to overcome. People are expecting scorched earth right now. You’re going to get an in between because I actually get why ESPN cancelled the show. The executives there were put in a box. Sam Ponder, I’m not even really mad 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 accomplished what she wanted to get accomplished. She got the show cancelled. From what we heard, there was a mini-uprising. When I say mini, I’d guess like 95 percent of ESPN employees like Barstool and there’s a small minority, either for real reasons they want their own show — shoutout Sarah Spain — whatever the case may be, there are people who didn’t like the show.

With anything we do at Barstool, the vocal minority stamps their feet loud, loud, loud. Here’s what this does and by the way, I feel bad for PFT. I feel bad for Dan, because the show did very good. It crushed in the 1 o’clock hour. For a debut, I think it was excellent. I feel bad for that. Here’s who I don’t feel bad for and here’s in a weird way what has reinforced what I already knew. This is exactly and I mean exactly why Barstool Sports has to exist. It has to. 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 in hindsight, I wish I took back so this didn’t happen. 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 that have followed this company know we just talk, shoot the shit, 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 needed them. Everyone saying, ‘ESPN’s not cool. No one’s paying attention to ESPN’. They’re all paying attention to the Barstool’s of the world. Why? We’re authentic and issues like this don’t happen. They got pushed around. Anybody who thinks the ESPN executives wanted to cancel this show are nuts. They’re a Walt Disney Company. They got 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 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. It’s not going anywhere. All of this does is just reinforce the very reason we’re the fastest growing media company in the world because we don’t care about this. We will suffer a couple setbacks. We’ll take a couple L’s because in the end it makes us stronger, stronger, stronger, because we’re not changing. I haven’t apologized for that rant. I wish I didn’t use the word because three years ago it was a very different social climate, and we’re ranting on something now that we thought was fair. It’s weird, by the way, how people do that with Barstool. People will look and say, ‘What we said five years ago doesn’t count, but we will count what Barstool said five years ago against them’.

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Again, it is what it is. ESPN had to know who they’re getting into business with. We didn’t change. We’ve been the same people for 15 years. The only thing that changed is their own internal employees had a mutiny, again for reasons that, maybe some legitimate, some agenda-driven, but I’m promising you what these people did is going to make us stronger. Like, you want to see the difference between ESPN and Barstool? You want to say why everyone says Barstool is going to be the next ESPN? It’s this, because we do things our way, for better or worse, and we’ll continue to do it. People who have been with us forever know we’re not sexist, we’re not chauvinistic, we’re not anything. We make fun of everybody. To be honest, ESPN, if you want to worry about a company uprising, I have said far more aggressive things, far more offending things, far more over-the-top things about all of their NFL guys: Chris Mortensen, Sal Pal. I’ve showed up, I’ve mocked these people, I’ve heckled these people. So, to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know how to distance from Barstool’. We make fun of everybody for 15 years. I keep saying it. I haven’t chosen my words carefully. I haven’t tried to offend people on purpose. We just sit in a room and we talk and we try to be funny and bring a little light into people’s days. We’ll continue doing that.

We’re not going to let advertisers, we’re not going to let Mickey Mouse push us around. In the end, I’m telling you, this is going to make us stronger. It sucks the show is off but for the future and the confidence of this company, there is nothing that ESPN actually could have done to illustrate why we are rising, and why they are falling. I get why they had to do it. They are a much bigger company: stock, investors, all of that stuff, headaches. Maybe it wasn’t worth it. For Barstool, we will move on, and we will get stronger like we always do.”

From an earlier Friday tweet by Big Cat, it appears as though long-time sports broadcaster Dan Patrick would have been guest No. 2 on Barstool Van Talk.

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About Mark J. Burns

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