The “5 Podcasts in 5 Days” series has reached the hump day portion of the work week. Today, we take a closer look at a recent episode of “Outkick The Show” featuring Clay Travis of FOX Sports and Outkick The Coverage fame.
When I decided to tackle this project, this was one of the program’s I was looking forward to critiquing because Clay’s approach to the show is unique. He broadcasts on multiple platforms and uses social media as well as anyone to drive tune ins and engagement. How is it paying off? I’ll let you know what I uncovered as you sort through the remainder of this article.
Before diving in, let me once again remind you that if you’re a fan or critic of the shows I’m reviewing this week, or getting paid to work on one of them, don’t overreact. These are my sole opinions based on listening to one specific episode. Others may consume the product differently. A good critique doesn’t earn you a pay raise from your employer, and a bad critique doesn’t mean you should quit the industry.
As I offer my assessments, my only goal is to share an honest, and objective view of what listeners can expect to hear when they download and listen to the show. If other podcasts produced by the host(s) are different than the one I’ve analyzed that’s irrelevant. This isn’t an exercise in reviewing every single episode in the history of the program. It’s a review based on what the show recently recorded and published online for the whole world to hear.
Now that we’ve taken care of that business, let’s dive into the analysis. You’ll also find an audio version of the episode to listen to and follow along with if you wish.
- TITLE: Outkick The Show
- DATE: June 10, 2016
- LENGTH: 45 Minutes 34 Seconds
- CAST: Host = Clay Travis
- SPONSORS: None.
- PRODUCTION: None.
- EXTRA: The show can be heard in audio form on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher, and watched on Periscope, YouTube and Facebook Live. It’s also heavily promoted through FOX Sports, Twitter, and Facebook.
:00-20:15 = Clay begins by proclaiming “Deadspin is Dead”. He talks about Gawker Media filing for bankruptcy after losing a court battle to Hulk Hogan. The discussion includes Clay’s perspective on why Deadspin has gone backwards, how he approaches content at Outkick The Coverage, and why he thinks Outkick is built to stand the test of time while sites like Deadspin stumble. Clay brings up various examples of Deadspin using their influence to bury people, and explains how he could make the site great again if he purchased it. This leads to analyzing how the internet and social media have become playgrounds for the soft and why Clay believes authenticity and understanding context is important. The end of the monologue ends with Clay sending a few expletives in Deadspin’s direction and declaring victory for his gavel of justice.
20:20-33:10 = Bankruptcy attorney Warner Jones from Emerge joins Clay to provide some legal perspective on the issues facing Deadspin, and how they’ll influence the sale process.
33:10-34:30 = Post-interview comments from Clay.
34:30-36:10 = Clay provides his NBA Finals betting tips. With the Cavs favored by 2.5 heading into Game 4, Clay likes the Warriors. He picks them to win the game by double digits and go up 3-1 in the series.
36:10-39:00 = A social media message is sent in from J-Rob who wants to know if the Gawker lawsuit will have a chilling effect on media coverage. Clay answers the question and explains how Gawker operate differently from a number of other media companies. After describing how Deadspin goes after him, and his colleagues at FOX Sports, and uses malice in the way they cover people, Clay drops the hammer on them by adding “they fought for 10 years, but got in the ring with the wrong person, and Hulk Hogan f’ing leg dropped them and ended them as a company”.
39:00-45:15 = The discussion turns towards editorial decisions and how Clay determines what is and isn’t acceptable for his website. Clay is a strong backer of the first amendment and believes that the ‘PC Bromanis’ should have zero influence over what content gets published online. Although some may take offense with the words they read, and the images they see online, Clay says each individual shares in the responsibility because they have a choice of whether or not to read or watch it. This leads to talking about the differences in how FS1 and ESPN approach content. If Clay had his way FS1’s new marketing slogan would be “Fox Sports 1 – We Aren’t Pus***s”. Instead he says it’ll probably be something to the effect of “Fox Sports 1 – Fearless”. The conversation wraps up with Clay explaining why all publicity that doesn’t risk jail time is good publicity.
45:15-45:35 = Clay teases Thursday and Friday’s shows, thanks the audience for listening and watching, and signs off.
From start to finish, Clay Travis is dialed in and unafraid to express himself. He throws verbal haymakers throughout the episode, and seeks to leave a mark with every opinion. Whether it’s calling out Deadspin, ESPN, or the people of this world who become outraged by things that have little importance in their lives (Clay took an interesting position, explaining why he felt bad for Emily Austen who was fired for making racist remarks during an interview on Barstool Sports), when Clay gets rolling on a subject he’s invested in it’s hard to slow him down. He could help himself on occasion by pausing after a powerful opinion and letting the audience digest it. Clay can get pretty fired up, and move rapidly through the content, and if you’re not listening closely you could miss something.
Strong opinions aside, the show lacks in two areas. First, there is no production value whatsoever. There’s no open, close, or any form of audio used inside of the content to enhance the presentation. One could make the case that it’s not even an actual show, as much as it is an invitation into Clay Travis’ life. What Clay does is no different than what any individual on social media does when they turn on Periscope or Facebook Live and broadcast to their friends. The big difference is that he does it on all platforms at once, and with thousands watching. That’s the result of developing a strong brand and following, and having the FOX Sports machine behind him. He was one of the first to embrace broadcasting exclusively in digital form, and so far it seems to be working out well for him.
The second area that underwhelmed was the sponsorship space. I’m sure FOX Sports has a strategy in place to monetize the program, but that’s not evident in the presentation. For a listener, that shouldn’t matter at all since they come for the content, and would prefer not to be bombarded by messages from clients. Looking at it though strictly from a business point of view, no sponsor was mentioned during the entire forty five minute broadcast. I also didn’t see anything visually in front of or behind him that would suggest that non-traditional revenue was being generated during the program.
Some other hits from the show included Clay’s decision to bring on a bankruptcy attorney to advance the Gawker Media topic. Warner Jones came across very relaxed, and conversational, and he attempted to offer information that was easy for the audience to comprehend. There were times where the talk was above the common fan’s head, but given the magnitude of the story, and Clay’s personal connection to it, it made sense to do that. Be advised that the audio quality isn’t great since the conversation was heard through a speakerphone due to the show being broadcast in video and audio form. The only objection I had was that I didn’t think thirteen minutes of analyzing legal bankruptcy issues was necessary. The subject was excellent, the guest was good, and Clay’s questions were on point, but it started to become fatiguing. If he ends the discussion a couple of minutes earlier, it makes a stronger impact.
Two final items I want to draw attention to were that the program had a nice flow, and good structure. It started with an extensive monologue on the Gawker story which positioned Clay as an authority figure on the topic. His energy, and passion for the material draws you in, and when he gets the opportunity to make a point that leaves the audience excited, pissed, or curious, he takes full advantage of it. After the monologue, he shifts into interview mode, which presents a different content experience for the audience. He then wraps things up by incorporating some smaller stories and feedback from the audience. That turns a forty five minute show into a three to six segment program which keeps the listener and viewer on their toes and looking ahead to what’s coming next.
With Clay, there is no middle ground. You’re either an advocate for what he does or you loathe his approach. His opinions are direct, razor sharp, without apology, and he’s not going to alter his style for anyone. I personally love that about him. In sports radio we ask our talent to emotionally move the audience with unfiltered and unique opinions. Clay does that with ease.
Are there times when he comes across as an elitist? Yes. Is there a little bit of Jim Rome in the delivery? Some might say so. Will some listeners form an opinion that he sees himself as the smartest guy in the room? Probably. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Any talent who has ever done anything significant in this business has had their fare share of fans, and a longer list of detractors. Clay isn’t going to lose sleep over whether or not you like him. He just aims to invade your headspace enough to draw you back in to consume his content.
In listening to this show, it connected with me because the subject was in my wheelhouse, and Clay presented it in compelling fashion. I specifically love how he dove into subjects quickly and led off with his best headline. As soon as I heard him utter “Deadspin is Dead”, I was hooked. He presents himself as an opinion leader, and the structure of the show is designed to keep it interesting.
There will be some people who are turned off by his use of expletives, but aside from a few times where it felt like he was swearing just because he could, I thought he used them to emphasize points or put the final touch on something he felt very personally attached to. I would recommend this show to people who enjoy passionate ‘opinionists’ (a Jamie Horowitz buzz word). If you’re easily offended or not a fan of personalities who attack from Round 1 to 12, then this might not be the show for you. Regardless of your personal preferences, Clay isn’t going to change or stop punching for anyone.