Dan Le Batard’s final ESPN broadcast was never going to be his own farewell to radio. It’s unsurprising that he has a new venture ready to go, even with a very quick turnaround.
In fact, the only real surprise might be the name he’s partnering with: former ESPN chief John Skipper.
Barry Jackson broke the news at the Miami Herald:
Le Batard has decided to launch a new media company with former ESPN president John Skipper, according to a source. Skipper hired Le Batard at ESPN in 2011 and the two have remained close.
The source said Skipper would take the lead in finding a platform for Le Batard’s program, which blends sports, pop culture, occasional political talk, quirky topics and anything that Le Batard and co-host Jon Weiner wish to discuss.
Le Batard on Saturday declined to discuss the purpose of the new media company, what types of original content it would produce and platforms on which the content would air.
Considering how long the Le Batard and ESPN divorce had been the obvious outcome, it’s not shocking that this was announced so quickly after the final show. According to John Ourand at Sports Business Journal, Skipper will cede some responsibilities at his current company, DAZN, to work on the new media company, which will likely be built up around the more sure-thing brand of Le Batard’s radio work.
Skipper will remain part of DAZN Group in his current role as executive chair, though he will not spend as much time on day-to-day operations. There is speculation that former Disney exec Kevin Mayer will take over some of Skipper’s duties. In November, DAZN parent Access Industries hired Mayer as an advisor focusing on media-related businesses. Skipper will devote an undetermined percentage of his time to the new venture. Access Industries is believed to be supportive of Skipper’s move, particularly after the past several months when DAZN launched a global platform and surpassed its pre-pandemic subscription numbers.
Neither Skipper nor Le Batard could be reached for comment. Skipper’s first order of business: sell Le Batard’s show to a media company, like SiriusXM or iHeartRadio. Then the duo will look to hire reporters and editors that initially will focus on sports. Their belief is that Skipper’s editorial background is well-suited to grow this type of company.
Obviously wherever Le Batard decides to take his talents will be the next domino to fall.