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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Private Equity Firms Circle Colin Cowherd’s Podcast Empire

  • At least three firms looking to invest in The Volume podcast network.
  • The Fox Sports host has built a network of nearly 20 shows.
Colin Cowherd of The Volume

At least three private equity firms are circling Colin Cowherd’s sports media company, The Volume, sources told Front Office Sports.

These potential investors seek to buy part or all of Cowherd’s fast-growing podcast startup.

The longtime host of “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on FS1 hasn’t decided if he wants to sell all or part of The Volume, said sources.

But if the 59-year-old Cowherd gives the green light, he could land a financial windfall outside his multi-million annual salary from Fox Sports.

Cowherd’s fellow ex-ESPNer Bill Simmons sold The Ringer to Spotify for around $200 million in February 2020. 

Earlier this year, Peter Chernin’s North Road Company bought an unspecified minority stake in Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, valuing his entertainment empire at over $400 million.

Cowherd and The Volume declined to comment. But during a podcast appearance with the New York Post, he confirmed he had received offers for the company he founded in February 2021. 

“I’ve talked to LionTree, a couple of banks. Again, we are in a very soft advertising market, so what your evaluation is can be very fluid,” said Cowherd. “I feel very strongly about what we’re worth. And I am not looking to sell it. But it’s over $100 million.”

Besides his own eponymous podcast, Cowherd has built a network of nearly 20 shows with personalities such as Draymond Green of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, former NFL star Richard Sherman, and UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier.

Cowherd’s The Volume recently partnered with Shannon Sharpe’s Shay Shay Media

“I’m excited to partner with my friend Colin Cowherd and the creative team at the Volume,” Sharpe said. “The Volume has built an amazing platform that is the right fit to help Shay Shay Media reach the next level. That includes developing new shows and bringing on new talent under the Shay Shay Media brand.”

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According to sources, monthly downloads for Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” have risen 75% since he partnered with Cowherd and The Volume.

Sharpe’s new podcast with Chad Ochocinco, “Nightcap,” posts 1 million downloads and 15 million YouTube views monthly. 

The Volume has registered nearly 639,000,000 downloads since its launch. Over the last year, it has generated over 4 billion impressions across YouTube and social media.

The Volume recently had 5 shows in Apple’s Top 25 Sports Podcasts: The Herd, Club Shay Shay, Nightcap, FantasyPros and Club 520

Weighing whether to invite investors inside The Volume is one of many big decisions facing Cowherd.

Front Office Sports previously reported Cowherd’s contract with FS1 is up in early 2025.

Cowherd has confirmed that ESPN tried to bring him back to the network, where he worked for ten years before jumping to FS1 in 2015.

More sports media stars like Cowherd, Sharpe, Dan Le Batard, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Pat McAfee are setting up their own production companies where they work for themselves and control most of their intellectual property rights.

It’s easy to see The Volume as Cowherd’s path to independence if he chooses not to re-sign with a legacy media company like ESPN or Fox.

Besides his TV appeal, ESPN sees the possible free agent as the solution for its struggling radio division.

“Why wouldn’t ESPN go huge for Cowherd? He’d solve the ESPN Radio problem in one stroke,” one source.

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