Mike Francesa officially launched his new podcast this week and opened the first episode by declaring, “I’m back.”
After being off-air for 20 months, Francesa has returned to the audio space through a partnership with BetRivers sportsbook. Francesa’s contract with Audacy expired at the end of 2021, allowing the 68-year-old the freedom to seek new broadcast opportunities. And despite previously snubbing the podcast industry, the sports radio icon now has a podcast of his own.
“I’m glad to be back and you know, I stayed away from the podcast world for a long time,” Francesa admitted during his first episode, although the sports radio icon is not new to podcasting.
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Francesa’s attempt at launching a subscription-only app in 2018 included podcasts that did not air terrestrially, and he also hosted digital shows for RADIO.COM near the end of his tenure with Audacy. But as Francesa describes, he was hesitant to fully dive into the podcast world without a better grasp on the industry.
“When I was getting ready to step away from FAN in ’17, a lot of these early podcast companies came after me very hard,” Francesa said. “And I was like, ‘guys, I don’t understand the concept, I don’t understand where it’s going, so I’m just going to step back and wait.’”
Francesa didn’t say whether he understands the concept yet, but after waiting four years and watching the podcast industry grow to over 100 million listeners, the former WFAN stalwart seems to finally be bullish enough about this particular segment of media to join with his own digital show.
“I just waited to see how this would play out,” Francesa continued. “And recently, a bunch of companies have come after me during this crazy time where sports betting has become such a huge part of the fabric of broadcasting, and really sports.”
While Francesa may have been better off venturing into the digital space four years ago, rather than waiting to become a smaller piece of a larger pie, sportsbooks have shown a recent aggressiveness in their desire to hire sports radio talent. Ex- ESPNer Dan Le Batard landed a $50 million deal with DraftKings and Pat McAfee signed a monster deal with FanDuel worth $30 million annually.
We don’t know the financial terms of Francesa’s deal with BetRivers, but we can assume it’s not on the level of Le Batard or McAfee.
Francesa will be creating two podcasts per week, with each episode lasting approximately one hour. One podcast will be what he categorized as the “freelance hour,” with the other weekly episode having a stricter focus on baseball. During the NFL season, Francesa said he will release a weekly Football Friday podcast episode.
The Mike Francesa Show is available on all podcast platforms, including YouTube, although the first episode did not feature any video.