All good things must come to an end. After two decades, ESPN has decided to end Outside The Lines as a standalone television show. John Ourand of Sports Business Journal broke the news earlier this week.
“Staffers were told Thursday night that the Saturday morning edition of the long-running show will not return after the Super Bowl. In past years, ESPN halted production of the standalone OTL show in August, and it would return the show to its TV schedule the week after the Super Bowl,” Ourand wrote.
Fortunately, ESPN’s decision will not result in any lost jobs. Some of the show’s staff will be moved to other programs while other staffers develop other iterations of Outside The Lines. Media insiders expect the show’s brand to remain a segment of SportsCenter. Also, the show’s brand will still exist in various forms through ESPN’s digital platforms.
The decision to pull Outside The Lines as a standalone show was likely driven by viewership. Awful Announcing reports the show drew 303,000 viewers on Saturday mornings last year. In the same timeslot, SportsCenter is reportedly bringing in 572,000 viewers so far this year.
The departure of Outside The Lines does not spell the end of its host Jeremy Schapp on ESPN. In the coming months, he is expected to bring a new iteration of The Sports Reporters to ESPN’s digital platforms.