ESPN is in dire need of quite a few things.
ESPN needs to stop losing viewers and subscribers. “The Worldwide Leader” lost fans in droves in recent years, which in turn necessitated a pair of brutal layoffs in 2017.
ESPN needs to make some money. Many business pundits believe that the network’s cratering profitability is the primary reason parent company Disney took an earnings hit last fiscal year.
ESPN needs to make some new stars. The current slate of “stars” are all homogenized, and if they do stand out, like Stephen A. Smith, it’s usually for the wrong reasons.
New ESPN morning show “Get Up!” needed to address those concerns.
But the show has come up woefully short of meeting expectations.
“Get Up!” is ESPN’s attempt to reach a younger audience for its early-morning programming. The show, which debuted on Monday, April 2, features co-hosts Mike Greenberg, Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle discussing a variety of sports topics.
On paper, the trio looks like a winning combination. Greenberg has years of experience discussing sports alongside Mike Golic on the now-defunct “Mike and Mike” morning talk show. Rose serves as the retired athlete who can lend firsthand anecdotes and stories. And Beadle is generally regarded as a quality host based on how she handles her NBA shows.
In reality, however, the trio has done anything but win.
“Get Up!” notched a paltry 283,000 viewers for its debut episode, according to the Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand. That’s not a great figure, and the number steadily declined in the following days. By Wednesday, the figure was under 200,000 viewers.
The 283,000 viewers who watched the debut episode also represents a 12 percent drop in viewers compared to the same time slot from last April.
Things are dire for ESPN, and they’ll need results quickly.
“I think (the ‘Get Up!’ crew) need to get their act together by the beginning of football season. And I think that they basically have until next year’s Super Bowl. I don’t think anything’s going to happen, no matter what the ratings are,” ESPN expert Jim Miller said on The Athletic’s “Sports Media with Richard Deitsch” podcast.
“That said, it’s interesting to see what (new ESPN president Jimmy) Pitaro’s patience level is going to be with it versus (ex-ESPN president John) Skipper’s because Skipper gave birth to this, and if he were still there, I think they would have had, certainly, at least a built-in margin for error that they may not necessarily have with (a new president).”
“They need to make this show work,” Miller stressed.
Compounding matters is the small fact that, per The Hollywood Reporter, ESPN is spending $14.5 million in salaries on the three co-hosts. Greenberg makes $6.5 million, Beadle brings in $5 million and Rose earns $3 million. That’s already a lot of money sunk into a show with sagging ratings and lukewarm reviews. That $14.5 million figure doesn’t even cover other ancillary salaries, such as those for cameramen and makeup artists, or set costs.
ESPN needs “Get Up!” to work. Otherwise, based on the time, money and manpower sunk into this show already, it could be one of the costliest mistakes ESPN has made in a while. And that’s saying something.
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