Last week, on-air personality Dan Le Batard left ESPN for a project he is launching with his former boss, former ESPN president and current DAZN head John Skipper. What was particularly notable about the move were these sentences in a Sportico article about his departure:
The first priority for Dan Le Batard’s next media endeavor—a project he’s launching with his former boss, one-time ESPN president John Skipper—is to secure a distribution deal for his audio empire.
Those negotiations will likely be bolstered by something he took with him from ESPN. As part of his severance from the Disney unit, Le Batard negotiated for the RSS feed to his podcast, according to multiple people familiar with the talks. It’s allowed the talk show host to maintain continuity with his followers, without requiring them to re-subscribe to a new show.
Le Batard taking his RSS feed with him means that Le Batard is taking his distribution network with him.
To understand how significant this move is, it is the equivalent of The Office leaving Netflix while still retaining access to all 65MM U.S. Netflix subscribers, and those subscribers receiving the show from NBCU within Netflix’s distribution network and not Peacock. Instead, NBCU paid $500MM for the rights to distribute The Office, but 100% of the audience will not be coming over with The Office from Netflix to Peacock. Instead, Peacock will now need to win that audience with marketing and promotional deals all over again (as I wrote last week).
Le Batard’s move has elements of two PARQOR frameworks: Product Channel Fit and The Curse of the Mogul. It is arguably more so the latter framework: the talent (Le Batard) is walking away with more value than the media company (Disney/ESPN).
But, Le Batard’s deal is more interesting in how it offers a helpful contrast between the audio streaming ecosystem versus the SVOD streaming ecosystem, and in doing so flips the perspective of these two frameworks from macro to micro. Meaning, his deal takes us deeper into the technology constraints that creative talent face in having their content discovered and consumed in SVOD, and the business implications of those constraints. There are two constraints in particular which play out differently for talent in each marketplace:
- discoverability on-platform and off-platform, and
- friction in User Interface/User Experience