Struggling ESPN Takes Another Step Closer to Death
Former sports giant is facing falling ratings — and now has a show on its hands into which it invested millions
ESPN recently invested heavily in a new program to replace its morning “SportsCenter” called “Get Up!”
The investment is thus far looking like another expensive setback for the struggling company.
The company reportedly is spending nearly $15 million per year just on the hosts of the show, Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose.
According to Clay Travis of Fox Sports, ESPN also spent tens of millions of dollars building a new studio for the show and promoting it. None of that mattered when it premiered, though.
Ultimately, “Get Up!” is looking like it could be a total disaster for the already struggling station. The first episode had atrocious ratings, averaging a mere 283,000 viewers in the 7-10 a.m. slot. A piece in Sports Illustrated noted that was the lowest number of viewers any ESPN show received in its debut this century.
Not only did the new program not draw much ratings, but it also was actually a serious downgrade from what ESPN already had. The debut episode’s viewership represents a 12 percent drop from what the time slot had on the station last April.
ESPN had promised its new show would only focus on “normal sports stuff” — but that was just not enough for people to tune back into the station.
Despite the promise, the show’s executive producer, Bill Wolff, who previously worked for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The View,” had told The Hollywood Reporter: “When players take a knee, then it deserves coverage and conversation. If something political makes itself part of our world, we are dishonest and inauthentic if we don’t discuss it.”
ESPN’s massive investment in a program that looks like it will be unsuccessful and short-lived comes just a year after financial woes forced the company to lay off over 250 workers.
Financial setbacks seemed to prevent the network from keeping those workers — yet the company somehow had a massive amount of capital to spend on a show that doesn’t draw viewers.
It’s the network, after all, that laid off conservatives such as Curt Schilling and Britt McHenry while keeping Jemele Hill — who called Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”
In recent years, fans have been turned off by ESPN as the company has taken a left-leaning stance when political issues and sports intersect. It’s the network, after all, that laid off conservatives such as Curt Schilling and Britt McHenry while keeping Jemele Hill — who called Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”
Business Insider reported that ESPN had lost 13 million subscribers in a six-year span as of September 2017, so it is likely even more people have cut ties with the network since that time.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.