Dan Le Batard saw what ESPN has done with its new simulcast for college football with new star Pat McAfee, and he believes it is very similar to his own show.
Le Batard, who was with the company before founding Meadowlark Media with former ESPN boss John Skipper in 2021, was among the many viewers that saw McAfee and his crew on “The Pat McAfee Show” on the sidelines during the Texas-Alabama game, where they had a fun broadcast filled with special guests like Matthew McConaughey.
“The Pat McAfee Show” debuted on ESPN last week, when they broadcasted live from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, while McAfee also made his appearance on “College GameDay” on Saturday morning prior to the simulcast at night.
Though Le Batard sees similarities to his own show, he is not sure ESPN would have allowed him to play the same role now, mostly because of his politics.
“What is funny about what just happened with McAfee is I don’t know if it’s so, because I can’t go back in time and know if it would actually be possible to have my politics and be what that is,” Le Batard said on his “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.” “It’s inescapable that post-George Floyd, what happened there is they told me focus groups showed no politics with this. That show’s not going to have politics, but it looks a little bit like ours – the fun formula and all that stuff.
“At the center of it is a professional wrestler who’s vastly more entertaining than me and is a star. He was already heading toward stardom and now this is going to be rocket fuel.”
Le Batard made sure to point out that he absolutely loves what McAfee has done since he ended his NFL career as a punter for the Indianapolis Colts early to pursue his life in sports media.
“God, do I admire his story,” Le Batard said. “Bet on himself, did it his way, and now cashes all of the king’s riches. But ESPN chose that over Bomani [Jones] and me and Sarah [Spain], whatever it is that we were doing that doesn’t fit with the politics of whatever McAfee’s doing, which is not gonna go near Trump and is gonna ‘rah-rah’ the hell out of football all season.”
Le Batard sees nothing but positive trends for everything McAfee is doing with the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”
“They chose that and it’s gonna be wildly successful,” he said. “Wildly successful because it’s one of their giant investments. He’s going to explode and they’re going to explode, and you’re going to get big numbers all around ‘First Take.’ McAfee’s going to be there. He’s going to be one of the signature things.
“I don’t know if we could have ever actually been there, given what my politics are like. I don’t think it’s possible.”
DraftKings acquired Le Batard’s podcasts on a reported $50 million deal over three years in 2021. They announced the agreement with Meadowlark Media, where Le Batard promised his fans that the new money poured into the podcasts wouldn’t change the topics discussed on the show.
McAfee announced he was leaving FanDuel TV, where he was in the middle of a reported $120 million deal over four years, for ESPN, which is reportedly paying him an excess of $85 million over the next five years.