The Sporting News’ Mike McCarthy laid out some anemic numbers plaguing pregame NFL shows this year. ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown has been particularly hard-hit, losing 15 percent of its viewership while being steered by new host Sam Ponder. This nugget captured the attention of Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, who offered his thoughts on Ponder’s impact at the network. To no one’s surprise, he did not hold back.
Sam Ponder is seemingly single handidly destroying ESPN from the inside out. Everything she touches turns to mud. When she’s not intentionally sabotaging other people’s shows she’s unintentionally sabotaging her own show. She’s like a cancer just spreading and infecting the entire network
Last month, a tweet from Ponder helped derail a content partnership between Barstool and ESPN after one van-based comedy episode. It would appear the wounds are still fresh and the animosity still high — on at least one side.
Portnoy also wondered if Ponder would take ownership of the ratings decline or chalk it up to a higher power.
The only question left is whether she will take any accountability for her compete and utter failure or whether she will just blame it on God like her husband did when he sucked at the NFL? I guess time will tell.
It’s a strong, perhaps unfair take, but not an unexpected one. Portnoy and the larger Barstool universe will now understandably use any data point available to gloat over ESPN decline, especially if it can be pinned on one of the vocal detractors in Bristol.
With news that widespread layoffs are looming on the horizon at ESPN, there figures to be ample opportunity for Stoolies to spike the football. A significant faction of ESPN talent supports the Barstool brand and haven’t wavered despite the recent messiness between the companies. That support becomes harder if Portnoy’s personal salvos continue or spread, especially if staff reductions are concurrently heightening friction.