ESPN Cancels Show After 33 Years

ESPN just canceled one of its longtime shows. According to multiple reports, Outside the Lines will no longer be on the network. However, the news program will continue as a digital series and will stream on platforms such as ESPN's YouTube channel. According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, staffers were told Thursday night that the Saturday morning edition of the show will not return after the Super Bowl. The move to cancel the linear version of Outside the Lines will not result in any job losses. Outside the Lines will be featured on segments of ESPN's flagship show SportsCenter seven days per week. And Jeremy Shcaap, the anchor of Outside the Lines since 2022, will continue to lead the segments. 

Outside the Lines was first launched in 1990 as a monthly program before shifting to a daily format. It then changed to a weekend format in 2020 and was shown on Saturday morning during the NFL offseason. The show was anchored by Bob Ley from its inception until 2019 when he announced his retirement. Outside the Lines is known for covering hard-hitting issues in sports like the NFL concussion crisis and sex abuse in USA gymnastics. 

One reason for the move is low viewership. Outside the Lines averaged  303,000 viewers in its Saturday morning timeslot last year, according to the Sports Business Journal. This year, SportsCenter: AM has averaged over 570,000 viewers in the 9 a.m. timeslot. 

In an interview with The Athletic in 2019, Ley talked about the future of Outside the Lines. "I think is solid, four square," he said. "It is the hands of Andy Tennant, the executive producer, (ESPN executive editor) Norby Williamson, and Connor Schell. My understanding is there is an absolute commitment, which was expressed to me even before I reached my decision not to return. There is a great belief in the show. Any suggestion that it is going to be different because I am not there in the process, well you have people like Andy, who has stewarded E:60 to I lose track of the amount of awards his people have won."