ESPN has canceled the linear edition of its journalism-driven news program Outside the Lines.
While the weekly TV series is sunsetting, the Saturday morning news program will continue on as a digital series (including on ESPN’s YouTube channel), and with branded segments on ESPN’s flagship studio show SportsCenter seven days per week. Jeremy Schaap, the anchor of OTL since 2020, will continue to lead the segments.
Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand first reported the news. No jobs are expected to be lost with the change.
Launched in 1990 as a monthly program, OTL eventually shifted to a daily format. In 2020 the program returned to a weekly cadence on Saturday mornings during the NFL offseason. Anchored by Bob Ley from its inception until his retirement in 2019, the program was known for its tough reporting on issues like the NFL’s concussion crisis, and the USA gymnastics sex abuse scandal.
With much sports programming focused on live events or scores and highlights, OTL carved out a niche (along with the HBO series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel) as a home for investigations and interviews that touched on athletics. Now, instead of airing that weekly on Saturday mornings, it will find a home on the daily editions of ESPN’s TV flagship, and on YouTube.
ESPN has, for a number of years, been realigning its lineup to emphasize live sports and debate programming, as those programs remain the most-watched on its linear channels. SBJ notes that the weekend morning edition of SportsCenter has been drawing nearly twice as many viewers as OTL.