Immediately after Jason Whitlock’s departure from FS1 was announced, the question became where the outspoken pundit would land next. Going back to ESPN, which he left for Fox Sports in 2015, likely wasn’t an option.
Two weeks later, Whitlock has his new gig lined up. On Monday morning, Clay Travis’s Outkick the Coverage website announced that Whitlock is joining the outlet in what the official release termed a “partnership agreement.” Whitlock will write for the site (his first piece went live Monday) and soon launch a podcast. All of Whitlock’s work at Outkick will be branded “Fearless.”
The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reported that Whitlock was looking into launching his own direct-to-consumer business, similar to what Bill Simmons created with The Ringer and Joe Rogan has with his Joe Rogan Experience podcast. (Both ventures recently signed lucrative agreements with Spotify.)
Here's what's next for me. Biggest, most exciting challenge of my career. https://t.co/VHGjZJi7Mo
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) June 15, 2020
Presumably, that means Whitlock will maintain creative control over his content for Outkick, something that likely wouldn’t have happened at a traditional media outlet. (Would he have had such autonomy at the “Black Grantland” vertical he was developing with ESPN that eventually became The Undefeated?)
This also allows him to address topics that networks and publications may prefer he avoid in his commentary. Whitlock said as much in Outkick’s official announcement:
“Racial polarization, the promotion of anecdote-driven worldviews and the silencing of ideas and thoughts that contradict mainstream media narratives are tearing America apart. I hope the work we do at Outkick will play a small role in bringing us back together. That’s a big goal. I can’t wait.”
Partnering with Outkick saves Whitlock the trouble of creating and developing his own online operation, an endeavor that appears increasingly difficult in today’s media climate with many outlets forced to cut payroll, reduce coverage, or shutter operations entirely in the harsh economy created by the COVID-19 shutdown.
Most importantly, however, Outkick will allow Whitlock to be himself and express his views freely as he explained in his first column:
“It’s hard to be me at a modern mainstream media company. The things that define me are under attack. Social media has prioritized race, gender, sexuality and political ideology well ahead of God and country. The mainstream media’s addiction to social-media traction does not comfortably accommodate someone with my beliefs speaking my truth.”
Whitlock did have the opportunity to stay at FS1, as he told Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy. He was offered a two-year extension at the same pay. Whether or not Whitlock is getting a raise at Outkick probably won’t be revealed, but having a platform with no restrictions may have been more appealing.
While a regular TV gig like co-hosting FS1’s Speak For Yourself may not be part of the Outkick package, this may free him up to appear on other cable news and sports programs, as Travis does. And if Whitlock’s podcast is a success, that has become a very lucrative business for many commentators and personalities.
Outkick the Coverage has made notable additions to its staff in recent months, including hiring Ryan Glasspiegel, Bobby Burack, and Michael Shamburger (also of Golfweek) away from The Big Lead. Whitlock is the site’s highest-profile hire yet.