CBS Sports to air first-ever all-women’s sports talk show

CBS Sports Network will launch the first nationally televised all-female, weekly sports talk show on Sept. 30. 

The show, “We Need To Talk,” will feature prominent female athletes such as Women’s National Basketball Association legend Lisa Leslie and female boxing legend Laila Ali. 

In an Aug. 26 CBS Sports press release, Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said an all-women’s sports talk show should have already happened.

“This is a very proud moment for all of us here at CBS Sports,” McManus said in the press release. “A sports show featuring women is long overdue, and we are thrilled to make television history this fall with the national launch of ‘We Need to Talk.’”

As the first show of its kind on a sports network, there is a possibility that successful ratings for the show could lead to more job opportunities for female journalists.

Danielle Dwyer, a graduate student at Columbia and editor of ChicagoTalks, said a show like this is inspiring to her and other female sports journalists.

“As a female aspiring to break into the sports industry, it’s really great and positive to see a show where women sit down [and] talk sports,” Dwyer said. “We are talking about what we love, we talk about our passion … we can all speak our mind on that front.”

Teresa Puente, an associate professor of journalism at Columbia, said that while she is in favor of the show, women still need to be more involved in sports coverage.

“It’s great to have women’s voices out there, but I think the bigger issue is that women need to be part of the day-to-day coverage,” Puente said. “I don’t think [this show] is a substitute for having women as the commentators or reporters in the general sports programs and [game] broadcasts.”

Another highly speculated aspect of the show is how much focus will be placed on women’s sports. According to a 2013 study by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports, women’s sports currently receive 4 percent of all sports media coverage.

Puente said the study’s coverage statistic is disturbing, but that it also highlights the need for a show like this and more collaboration with women.

“That is why there is a need for this program,” Puente said. “This is a great opportunity for this show to [increase coverage for women’s sports]. However, I would also say they have to hold men’s sports accountable [for lack of coverage].”

Dwyer said while she does think women’s sports should be discussed more, they have to keep viewers’ interests in mind.

 “I don’t think that [the show] should focus on women’s sports,” Dwyer said. “I definitely think it should be talked about because you have a lot of these former women athletes that are going to be contributing to the show. You want to make sure your content is something that people want to see. Most of society wants to see the men’s sports because those are the money makers.”

According to a Feb. 5 USA Today report, the NFL made $10 billion last season alone and plans to reach as much as $25 billion per season in 2027. The NBA made about $4.6 billion last season, according to Plunkett Research, a statistics research company.

The Tucker Center study, which won a 2014 Upper Midwest Emmy Award, also found that female athletes are much more likely than male athletes to be portrayed in sexually provocative poses.

Susy Schultz, an adjunct faculty member in the Journalism Department and founding president of the Association for Women’s Journalists, echoed the Tucker Center study. She said the media coverage of female athletes is disproportionate as well—although 40 percent of athletes are female, they only receive a small margin of the coverage.

“When [women athletes] do get the coverage, instead of [the] media actually concentrating on women’s abilities and athleticism, it’s often sexualized coverage—hyper-sexual coverage,” Schultz said. 

Since the show’s announcement, CBS Sports has received praise from major media outlets such as ABC, and fans have called the move bold on Twitter and other social media outlets.

Dwyer said that while she is excited for the show, she also fears that its failure could hurt female journalists.

“I think [the fear of failure] is why it has taken so long for a show like this to happen,” Dwyer said. “They didn’t want to put this show out there because we’re finally making strides with women in sports media. What if [the show] tanks? How is that going to affect the credibility moving forward with these female journalists? Because it will be like, ‘Well, we gave them a shot, but [the show] didn’t [perform well].’”