Le Batard’s new media company adds an ESPN personality, takes next step in launch

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Barry Jackson
·4 min read
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Dan Le Batard’s newest venture now has a name, two media heavyweights running it and a familiar face to viewers of ESPN’s NBA studio coverage.

What it doesn’t yet have is a home for Le Batard’s popular program, but that might not be far behind.

Ten days after the Miami Herald reported that Le Batard and former ESPN president John Skipper were launching an original content company, that entity now has a name: Meadowlark Media.

“We hear the term ‘free agency’ a lot, but our fans, as loyal and rabid as any in sports, just gave us the freedom to exert the agency,” Le Batard said in a press release.

“John Skipper is a visionary, an industry leader and also the most powerful person in sports across the decade when our show rocketed to national acclaim. I can’t wait to see what he builds, and what we build together.”

Among Skipper’s priorities: finding a widely distributed home for Le Batard’s show, which has been airing in podcast form after his Jan. 4 departure from ESPN Radio. Sirius XM Radio remains among several possibilities.

At least one other prominent ESPN on-air personality already has joined the venture: NBA analyst Amin Elhassan, who made regular appearances on “The Jump” and other ESPN platforms.

And other recognizable names could also hop aboard. According to Front Office Sports, Meadowlark is pursuing several current ESPN personalities (including Bomani Jones) or former ones, most notably Jemele Hill.

“We’re trying to figure out the most productive way to work together,” Hill told Front Office Sports. “Both John and Dan know I have such a deep level of respect for them. So me working with them again always felt like it was inevitable.”

On his show this week, Le Batard called Skipper “a guy who is very good at seeing value in things. A guy who takes very large swings in business. A pioneer across 10 years of making more money for ESPN than anyone ever has. The most powerful man in sports has seen value here in a way that will make him split time with another entity that is a multibillion dollar sports rights company. You now see that man working as CEO to build us and beyond.”

Asked if the new company will distribute content via a website (with columns and articles) as well as through an audio and video component, Meadowlark’s spokesman said that’s open-ended and undetermined.

Skipper and Le Batard, at least to an extent, will make case-by-case decisions on how to tell a story, whether it’s through a 6,000-word article, a documentary, a podcast or an unscripted series.

The first mission — beyond finding a home for Le Batard’s show — is identifying the journalists or personalities who will join the venture, before then determining the best forum for their work.

“This is the start-up,” Le Batard said on his podcast this week. “This is what we’re showing people. The underbelly and the inner workings of; we are presently starting up right in front of you. This, what we’re doing, pirate radio with our feeds. A CEO of our company has seen the value of us owning our own stuff and being able to sell it to somebody, that’s a part of the story. But the bigger part of the story is that this is about to be a legitimate company.

“There are going to be announcements here over the next six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks. There are going be announcements about what it is that we’re doing. People want to know what we’re doing right now because it’s never been done like this before, Stugotz. Nobody’s just sitting out here floating at sea waiting for a CEO to come rescue them.”

“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” ranked No. 1 among all sports shows on Apple Podcasts on Jan. 5, the day after their final program on ESPN Radio. For the week, the show finished No. 7 on Apple Podcasts across all categories.

“I’m thrilled to be back in business with Dan, one of the leading and most unique voices in sports media,” Skipper said. “We have a lot in the works, but the first order of business will be to find Dan a new home for his wildly popular audio programs.”

And Le Batard said: “We’re very lucky John is available to us. Our pirate ship has found itself an overqualified Skipper.”

Here’s my Wednesday Dolphins 6-pack with lots of nuggets.

Here’s my Wednesday UM piece with lots of thoughts, notes and tidbits on UM’s defense amid recent staff changes.