Now that Colin Cowherd has officially jumped ship to Fox Sports, he has to look ahead to his new time slot. Moving from 10-1 to 12-3 changes the types of shows he will be up against. The 10-1 time slot is where Cowherd evolved into one of the most notable personalities in sports media, but this new slot comes with bigger-named competition. If Cowherd wants to stay on top of the sports media landscape, he will have to poach listeners from other sports talk shows. It begs the question, what other shows/personalities are on during this time slot and are they going to pose strong competition to Colin’s new simulcast radio show?
Stephen A. Smith – Mad Dog Radio: Making over $3 Million per year from ESPN isn’t enough for the bombastic Smith, who hosts weekdays from 1-3 PM eastern on Chris Russo’s satellite radio station. His show is the lead-in for Mad Dog Unleashed, the station’s titular show. Regardless of popularity, Smith’s audio reach cannot be as large as it once was now that he’s no longer on ESPN Radio stations. Smith isn’t a big fish unless Skip Bayless is around and Cowherd doesn’t even need to waste time with him.
Jim Rome – CBS Sports Radio: When CBS Sports Radio launched in 2013, Jim Rome was its marquee name. The Jungle has a large syndication base and an audience of 2.5 million listeners. But most importantly, he’s another controversial big head in sports talk. Rome and Cowherd are both known for outlandish and loud mouthed takes, with both hosting solo for three hours daily. When The Herd was on ESPN, the two shows overlapped for one hour, but they now share the same timeslot. Fans of “The Jungle” are just like fans of Cowherd in the sense that they are two mutually exclusive bases of intense followers; fans of one show tend to have poor opinions of the other. Something tells me these two will be playing the feud sooner or later.
Pro Football Talk – NBC Sports Radio (and NBC Sports Live Extra): Though technically a simulcast, Mike Florio’s radio show can only be seen on the NBC Sports Live Extra app. (Ed Note: Video of the first hour is simulcast on profootballtalk.com and the show is streamed on NBCSports.com.) Florio must never sleep, because he has the PFT website, tons of radio hits, the PFT radio show, and even a PFT TV show. But he’s not a big dog in general sports media and won’t leave Cowherd sleepless with his competing radio show.
Radio Shows with Television Simulcasts
Mike Francesa – WFAN/Fox Sports 2: If Colin Cowherd is Little Mac, then Mike Francesa is Glass Joe. The Sports Pope already lacked the national following of Colin Cowherd, but he stood no chance once Cowherd was hired by Fox Sports. Surprisingly, Francesa has been quiet on the matter, likely realizing he is still getting his paychecks, even if fewer eyeballs are watching his daily sports radio marathon. Not to mention he can continue to reign supreme in the Big Apple.
Rich Eisen – Fox Sports Radio/NFL Now/AUDIENCE: The biggest direct competitor to Cowherd, Eisen currently hosts the only Fox Sports Radio show on from 12-3 eastern. Soon, Cowherd will barge in, making it seem like the time slot is big enough for both hosts. When Eisen originally joined the FS Radio ranks, he pushed Jay Mohr back by three hours. But Mohr had a radio show and no television side. Eisen has a TV and app partner, making a move much more complicated. That said, his television simulcast is a DirecTV exclusive, meaning it will not be seen by as many eyes as Cowherd’s show will on Fox Sports 1. A battle for the time slot would turn into a complete slogfest, but Cowherd would be favored based on the bigger investment Fox has on him. But for now, the two shows will have to coexist like Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.
Ryen Russillo and Danny Kanell – ESPN Radio/ESPNEWS: Though their new show hasn’t officially debuted, Russillo & Kanell is real and starts on August 31st. The first hour of their show can be seen on ESPNEWS most days, but this is a tried and true radio program. While Russillo’s forte is the NBA, Kanell’s is college football, which could lead to a nice give-and-take when one host cedes control to the other. This show used to get a quality lead-in from Cowherd, but that is about to change. The most devout of Cowherd’s listeners won’t be listening to much ESPN Radio during the day, and this could hurt Russillo & Kanell’s ratings as the show tries to find its foothold.
Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton – WFAN/CBS Sports Network: Apparently, there is a rerun of a local radio morning show airing on a cable sports network carried in fewer homes than the Big Ten Network and SEC Network. I had no idea! Needless to say, if Mike Francesa isn’t real competition for Cowherd, Boomer and Carton aren’t, either.
ESPN Counterprogramming: Normally, ESPN airs SportsCenter and other studio shows (usually football-related) on weekdays from 12-3. That schedule isn’t going to hold up much over the next few weeks between the Little League World Series and U.S. Open Tennis. And it should be Cowherd’s bigger concern with his former employer; live events are a bigger draw than radio simulcasts. Cowherd is fortunate these are not everyday occurrences to eat into his ratings.
ESPN2 Counterprogramming: Like Cowherd, Jamie Horowitz left behind a big legacy at the Mothership. His legacy may loom even larger, with debate embraced way too often on ESPN2. His & Hers airs live from 12-1, followed by a rerun of First Take from 1-3. Of course, this is subject to change just like ESPN’s schedule depending on live events. Regardless, His & Hers is lucky to draw 300,000 viewers while First Take reruns don’t make a dent that size. Until ESPN2 decides to air live programming for all three hours, Cowherd shouldn’t be too worried.
What shows pose Cowherd’s biggest competition?
As much viewers and listeners as Colin Cowherd can draw, he has some real competition to deal with in his new time slot. He is entering an established time slot that will shake up this three hour window now that he will go head to head against big names like Rich Eisen and Jim Rome.
Eisen is a big name known for his time on SportsCenter and the NFL Network. His radio/TV show may not be the most popular, but he has carved out a niche and has plenty of partners (Fox Sports Radio, DirecTV, NFL Media) invested in his success. Not to mention, some stations will opt for his show over Colin Cowherd, something that will directly eat into his syndication reach. As I said before, Cowherd will likely win a battle against Eisen, but it will be far from easy.
Rome is Cowherd’s biggest radio-only competitor. His CBS Sports Radio show was ranked third on Talkers’ “Heavy Hundred” sports talk list in 2014. It seems like Rome and Cowherd portray similar characters, with both acting smarter than their listeners and their takes so scorching hot they cause third-degree burns. Moreover, Rome knows how to push an envelope without upsetting an entire nation or getting suspended. It’ll be a close race for these two, but they can both draw in the same time slot because each show is under a different network arm.
In the end, Colin Cowherd will continue to reign at or near the top of sports radio in his new 12-3 time slot. He has already begun a domino effect that will impact the ratings of his new competition, but only time will tell how big the dominoes are and how many of them get lost in the shadows of Cowherd’s new show.
Alex Kaufman is a Spanish and communication double major at Denison University. He loves to consume and cover sports and sports media, hosts a sports talk show on 91.1 WDUB, and can be found at his own website, neuroticsportsfan.com.