Meadowlark Media’s Dan Le Batard On Why He Left ESPN, “They Didn’t Give Us Total Freedom”


Last January, the eight-year partnership between ESPN and Dan Le Batard ended. In December of 2020, Batard and ESPN mutually agreed to part ways.

“We could not be more grateful for your support,” Le Batard told the Miami Herald. “That gratitude is mountainous and real and forever. It’s the primary reason we’re leaving. You’ve given us the freedom to know we can. We know somehow you’ll follow us. We know the way you care about us — giving us permission to be different, demanding it of us, and then rewarding us for it.”

At the time, Le Batard’s next business venture had not been announced. However, a familiar face brought him to ESPN, and the same person would be his partner for his new business venture ‘Meadowlark,’ and that person is former ESPN President John Skipper.

“We looked around and said: ‘Wow, really? This is going to be a new media company?’ ” Skipper said, according to Washington Post. “But it was a rallying cry, too, that everybody was going to come along.”

“There is a moment in time,” he said, “which is right now, where there is going to be more money spent on content than it’s ever been in history.”

Per Washington Post, Meadowlark Media will be developing content for the Gambling company Draft Kings after agreeing on a three-year deal worth $50 million.

Speaking of Dan Le Batard, he was a recent guest on the Ariel Helwani podcast. During his appearance, Helwani asked him if he regrets going to ESPN. Like Le Batard, Helwani also worked at the World Wide Leader in Sports in his career.

“Well, it’s an interesting thing about regret because so often I ask this question. By fainting myself as a decent interviewer, I ask interviewees about regret and very often many of them what to me is a very standard Clithe answer that does not have a lot of introspection or it might have introspection, but no regrets. I have no regrets everything turned out fine. I know that’s not a revealing answer, but what I say to you is all of the hard was worth it,” said Le Batard.

What I would say to you is where ever you find regret, I wish this hadn’t happened and this hasn’t happened, it hardens into a resentment that you hold around expecting someone else to heal you on. I got to ESPN and I imagine it being a destination playground where they give me the freedom to do all this fine and cool s*** that people didn’t even understand why it was on ESPN. Because ESPN was serious about sports coverage it seems crazy to me Ariel the idea that you come from a wrestling and fighting background. That it wouldn’t be very easy to understand that this is entertainment. Why wouldn’t you make it a little bit more fun? It doesn’t have to be secret.”

He would add, ” The World Wide Leader in Sports was born in Bristol and it’s this beautiful stream for sports streaming thing. How do we make it more national? I know it’s the World Wide Leader in Sports. So, he [John Skipper] puts it in places New York. Los Angeles, [Tony] Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon hired us in Miami [Me and my father] and tried to build a little bit more diverse thing…. I can’t help but be grateful for that even if the job changed a little bit at the end and I didn’t have total freedom. I would have preferred total freedom. I always want total freedom. I will fight for total freedom. I didn’t have total freedom. So, we left, but it worked out. They gave us all of our s***. That’s pretty rare, they gave us our audience, which is pretty rare.”

What do you think?

Written by Landon Buford

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