CBS Sports Network is shuffling its daily sports lineup. According to Sports Business Journal, the network is canceling its original late night talk show Lead Off and syndicating Doug Gottlieb’s national radio show beginning August 25th. Lead Off featured Gottlieb teaming with Allie LaForce, who will take on sideline reporting duties for the SEC on CBS this fall after stellar work during March Madness.
The shift makes sense for multiple reasons. Although Gottlieb is very polarizing in the sports media world, it’s clear that CBS (and more specifically CBS Sports Network) is investing in him as one of their main personalities.
It’s quite odd to consider this truth, but radio simulcasts have become go-to programming for sports television networks. From Mike & Mike, The Herd, and SVP & Russillo at ESPN, to Dan Patrick at NBCSN, to Mike Francesa at FS1, to Boomer & Carton on CBS Sports Network. Radio simulcasts are everywhere and networks can’t get enough of them. They’re daily sustenance just like crappy reality shows for E! and TLC.
Guys talking into microphones in cramped studios isn’t really compelling sports programming, but it’s inexpensive to produce and fills a block of airtime with live content. The Doug Gottlieb Show will air from 3-6 PM ET weekday afternoons and will replace an endless array of obscure reruns on CBS Sports Network’s daily lineup. In that aspect, it’s smart for CBSSN because at least they can now be in the daily sports conversation every afternoon instead of showing World’s Strongest Man and Minor League Baseball replays.
The switch is a bit disappointing in the regard that it follows the same simulcast format that’s popular everywhere else in the sports world. CBSSN isn’t rated by Nielsen because of its limited distribution, so there’s no telling just how successful its studio programming is from a viewership standpoint.
However, at least Lead Off provided sports fans something different. A late night debate/discussion show at midnight that could get the jump on stories for the next morning and/or give an immediate recap of what transpired that night in the sports world. It was an ambitious idea from CBS, so here’s hoping they and other competitors keep trying new things in their programming. At the very least, Lead Off launched the career of LaForce as one of the bright young stars in the industry, so perhaps that’s enough for its lasting legacy.