Despite an extensive publicity campaign and months in development, ESPN’s daily 7-10 a.m. Eastern time show Get Up, which some touted as a cross between SportsCenter and Good Morning America/Today, is being thrown for a loss, so far.
“Get Up, which debuted April 2, has earned terrible ratings that are steadily declining and is down 24 percent over its first four shows from last year’s SportsCenter in the same time slot,” WEEI reported about the lack of traction with viewers.
Various TV observers have remarked, for one thing, that most of ESPN’s prime demo is on the way to work (or perhaps still asleep) when Get Up airs live, which casts doubt on the premise of the show in the first place.
Notwithstanding hundreds of layoffs at ESPN in the last several years, moreover, most recently in November 2017, the sports network has made an enormous financial commitment to Get Up, which originally had a working title of Greeny & Friends.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ESPN is paying principal host Mike Greenberg $6.5 million and co-hosts Michelle Beadle (shown below) and ex-NBA player Jalen Rose $5 million and $3 million, respectively, for their services. Moreover, ESPN built an expensive new studio in lower Manhattan for Get UP and obviously is also responsible for the salaries of the facility’s production and support staff.
To free up Greenberg for the new venture, ESPN cancelled Mike & Mike (Greenberg plus Mike Golic), its apparently successful radio show simulcast on ESPN television, after an 18-year run. Its ESPN replacement, Golic and Wingo, has also been suffering in the ratings.
Longtime ESPN critic Clay Travis, the Fox Sports Radio host, who has taken to calling ESPN “MSESPN” for its pushing a liberal, social justice agenda on sports fans who primarily just want to watch games and game highlights, has derisively nicknamed Get Up as “WokeCenter AM.”
On his Outkick the Coverage blog, Travis implies that Get Up is going down, given the disastrous ratings, at least out of the gate.
“A raging conflagration of ineptitude. Consider — John Skipper broke up the most successful radio show in ESPN history, Mike & Mike, to launch WokeCenter AM with Mike Greenberg, which is now directly competing with Mike Golic’s radio show for viewers and advertisers. And in the process Skipper spent tens of millions of dollars on a brand new New York City studio to kick SportsCenter off the air, the most venerable brand on ESPN, and lose nearly half of ESPN’s morning viewers in the process … Based on my conversations with people inside ESPN, many at the company are rooting for this show to fail because they resent the salaries and money being spent on a show that most don’t believe in and they resent just as much that this show is in New York City…One prominent sports executive to me: ‘If this were a sports franchise, you’d be trying to jettison salaries and rebuild at this point.'”
It remains to be seen if new ESPN president James Pitaro will be as patient with Get Up as his predecessor likely might have been.
Recall that former ESPN President Skipper also gave the green light to the more personality driven SportsCenter6 (The Six or SC6) with the controversial Jemele Hill and co-host Michael Smith at 6 p.m. Eastern, but the rebranded SportsCenter version failed in the ratings and was cancelled after about one year.
THR got the WokeCenter meme going by headlining its article “ESPN Plans to Wake Up Woke With New Morning Show.” Mike Greenberg, who ironically never gained a reputation for harboring a political agenda, subsequently told the Sporting News, however, that his platform will deal with sports exclusively, unless for example, President Trump sends out a tweet that is sports-related.
GetUp‘s apolitical approach may not last, however, Fox News claimed.
“ESPN has come under fire in recent memory for a variety of situations that have left some viewers feeling that the network has a liberal bias. The resume of Get Up! executive producer Bill Wolff won’t do anything to alleviate those feelings, as he previously worked on MSNBC’s anti-Trump The Rachel Maddow Show, Chelsea Handler’s failed Netflix show and ABC News’ overwhelmingly liberal daily gabfest The View. The show hasn’t taken a political stance thus far, but many critics feel that it’s only a matter of time. Beadle, who is an outspoken feminist, and Rose have been outspoken about political and racial issues, while Greenberg typically sticks to sports. During a recent shareholder meeting for ESPN’s parent company, Disney, a frustrated investor told CEO Bob Iger that ESPN had become a ’24/7 anti-Trump tirade channel.'”
In a recent podcast, ESPN biographer James Andrew Miller asserted that if Get Up proves unsuccessful in attracting sufficient viewers, it could pose serious ramifications in that it might discourage other sports personalities from join up with ESPN, the Awful Announcing website explained.
“To Miller’s point, ESPN has put a lot of money, manpower, and promotion behind Get Up, and if three high-profile personalities, a prime time slot, and a massive ad campaign aren’t enough to make it work, that certainly won’t reflect well on the network. With all that in mind, it’s safe to say that if Get Up‘s ratings remain low, ESPN will consider changes to the show’s content, structure, promotional strategy or even personnel. Yes, it’s early for Get Up, but given the ratings and the bad PR that has come with them, the network might not wait too long before making some moves.”
“Some industry insiders feel ESPN will eventually blame Skipper for the show’s demise, as he would make an easy scapegoat who is no longer with the company,” Fox News added.
As widely discussed in the media universe, ESPN has lost about 14 million subscribers (and thus, an enormous amount of revenue from cable and satellite providers at $7 per household) through cord-cutting and other reasons since 2011, and overall viewership is also down significantly. The sports network also overpaid for telecast rights fees to pro and college leagues, which is currently crushing the Disney subsidiary’s bottom line.