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‘Outside the Lines’ canceled at ESPN after 33 years, news brand will live on other platforms

ESPN has canceled the linear edition of its journalistic news program Outside the lines.

As the weekly TV series winds down, the Saturday morning news program will continue as a digital series (also on ESPN’s YouTube channel) and branded segments on ESPN’s flagship studio show Sports Center seven days a week. Jeremy Sheep, the anchor of OTL since 2020, the segments will continue to lead.

Sports Business JournalJohn Ourand broke the news first. 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 schedule returned to a weekly Saturday morning rhythm during the NFL’s offseason. The program, from its inception until his retirement in 2019, was anchored by Bob Ley and was known for its hard-hitting coverage of issues such as the NFL’s concussion crisis and the US gym sex abuse scandal.

With many sports programs 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 surveys and interviews that touched athletics. Now, instead of airing that weekly on Saturday mornings, it will find a home in the daily editions of ESPN’s TV flagship and on YouTube.

For several years now, ESPN has 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 Sports Center attracts almost twice as many viewers as OTL.

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