ESPN’s new morning show Get Up appears, so far, to be a major disappointment to the network as far as viewership is concerned. Ratings are down about 15 percent or more year over year from the traditional edition of SportsCenter. Airing from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday, the chat show, which some touted as a cross between SportsCenter and Good Morning America/Today, features Mike Greenberg along with co-hosts Michelle Beadle and ex-NBA player Jalen Rose, who broadcast from an expensive new studio in lower Manhattan.
ESPN is said to be paying “Greeny” $6.5 million and Beadle and Rose $5 million and $3 million, respectively, for their services, despite having laid off hundreds of staffers at its Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters and elsewhere as recently as November 2017. ESPN is obviously also on the hook for the salaries of the newly built New York City facility’s production and support staff.
There is more bad news for the multi-channel operation that calls itself the Worldwide Leader in Sports, according to Fox Sports Radio host and blogger Clay Travis, a longtime critic of the ESPN business model.
Programming choices made by former ESPN President John Skipper has led to the destruction of multiple ESPN shows, Travis claimed on his Outkick the Show Periscope broadcast, which is NSFW, on Tuesday afternoon.
Among other things, Travis was drawing attention to the ESPN executive decision to break up the Mike & Mike (Greenberg and Golic) radio/television simulcast after 18 years to create Get Up with Greenberg as principal host, and with Beadle joining him in the Manhattan-based TV studio.
“You may not like Michelle Beadle, but SportsNation ratings are down substantially since she left and was replaced by Cari Champion. The ESPN SportsCenter AM ratings are down 20 percent in being replaced by Get Up. Mike and Mike has tanked in the replacement of Mike Greenberg by Trey Wingo. The New York City studio has drastically over-exceeded budget and is costing a major drain on the existing models that are there. Everything has fallen apart at ESPN, including this disastrous ‘WokeCenter AM’ which no one is watching…”
Travis has derisively nicknamed Get Up as “WokeCenter AM,” in part because the show’s executive producer came over from Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC as well as ESPN’s focus on social justice issues rather than just games or game highlights.
On his Outkick the Coverage blog, Travis described how April 2018 was allegedly a particularly difficult stretch for ESPN, which charges each cable or satellite household about $8 a month for its sports content.
“And the start of this spring was brutal for ESPN, costing the network 500,000 subscribers, or nearly 17,000 lost subscribers a day in the month of April. Putting that into context, this is $48 million in revenue that ESPN has lost forever. (That’s $8 a month x 500,000 lost subscribers x 12 months in a year. The loss in subscribers puts ESPN down to just north of 86 million, which is a precipitous decline from the 100 million subscribers the network had as recently as the end of 2011…The larger story here remains that ESPN, which is the most expensive channel on cable by far, loses more than any other channel with cord cutting because their revenue takes the biggest hit. “
As alluded to above, ESPN has lost about 14 million subscribers (and thus, an enormous amount of cash from cable and satellite providers) 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.