Colin Cowherd’s imminent departure from ESPN is still hot on everyone’s minds, just hours after the initial news broke. And while his future home hasn’t been officially confirmed or announced, all signs point to him heading to Fox Sports.
But while Cowherd and Fox may seem like a fit on paper, how much of a fit are they in reality? The Herd airs at 10 AM on ESPN Radio, but that wouldn’t work at Fox Sports Radio – Dan Patrick is on from 9 AM until noon, and Rich Eisen has a hold on the airwaves from noon until 3 PM. A later slot wouldn’t work too well because of Fox Sports 1’s live event coverage, and preempting that coverage for a radio simulcast would be a much bigger problem than preempting a radio simulcast for live game broadcasts. Cowherd could also join an outlet like SiriusXM and have the radio show simulcast on FS1, but then Fox would be looking at the odd situation of two radio shows under their banner airing TV simulcasts on opposite networks at the same time.
Could I be putting an undue focus on radio? Sure, but that’s always been Cowherd’s bread and butter – one of the main reasons he was frustrated with ESPN was their refusal to shift his radio simulcast from ESPNU to either ESPN or ESPN2 (which, let’s be honest, was never going to happen). While I think Cowherd understandably wants more of a presence on TV, I don’t think he’d be too thrilled to give up his radio show to do it.
As for TV, Fox Sports 1 has plenty of time slots that could work well. The Big Lead hypothesized about a 6 PM show to go up against SportsCenter, which would be quite ambitious on Fox’s part. A 6 PM weekday should would likely spell the end of America’s Pregame (and not NASCAR Race Hub, which has been the one consistent studio show to draw solid ratings in the nearly two year history of Fox Sports 1). A 6 PM show doesn’t come without risk – say what you want about SportsCenter’s shifting focus, but the 6 PM show is still a force, and with another studio show as a lead-in, Cowherd could get brutalized.
*Something* on weekend mornings related to football also could work, but without knowing Fox’s broadcast plans for the Bundesliga this season, we’re left speculating. A Cowherd-led college football pregame show could end up working much better than the two vastly different Saturday pregame shows Fox has run over the past two seasons, as could adding him to the NFL pregame show with Randy Moss and company.
What do I think will end up happening? It’s tough to say, because of the sheer amount of options Fox has in regards to Cowherd. I doubt he would go for it, but I think a 6-9 AM radio/TV simulcast could do wonders for Fox Sports 1 – there wouldn’t be any unfortunate preemptions, and Cowherd wouldn’t exactly have a brutal slate of competition. That would also free Cowherd’s weekends up for more football pregame coverage, and maybe even some sort of #EmbraceDebate style show after his radio show.
It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this plays out.