ESPN ‘Get Up’ First Month Ratings Are Revealing

Frederick M. BrownGetty Images

The new ESPN show Get Up surged to 434,000 viewers on the morning after the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but the overall April ratings for the presentation that replaced the traditional SportsCenter seem to tell a different story.

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 principal host Mike Greenberg along with co-hosts Michelle Beadle and ex-NBA player Jalen Rose, who broadcast from an expensive new studio in lower Manhattan rather than ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The show premiered on April 2 after an extensive publicity campaign and months in development.

To create Get Up, ESPN ended the 18-year, Mike & Mike (Greenberg and Golic) radio/TV simulcast partnership and relocated Beadle from the LA-based SportsNation.

Is ‘Up’ down at ESPN?

According to The Big Lead, the above-referenced April 27 ratings spike appears to be an anomaly while having a ripple effect on the popular and high volume show with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, and Molly Qerim that follows immediately after.

“[Get Up dropped] more than 20% versus the corresponding SportsCenter programs last year…All told, the much-ballyhooed program…was down nearly 18% year-over-year versus SportsCenter for the month of April, while also dragging down the viewership for First Take, which had been making incremental gains for months but finished April down over 6% versus 2017…it’s a very bad sign that it is posting these numbers at the start of the NBA playoffs…”

The Big Lead continued about the Get Up downturn, which it headlined as “profoundly disappointing.”

“Greenberg, Beadle, and Rose are making nearly $15 million combined, the incremental New York studio and union production costs are not inexpensive, a cash cow radio show was broken up to make way for this program, and they are losing nearly a fifth of the viewers from a show that ESPN executives were evidently displeased with the performance of because they deemed that it needed dire upheaval.”

To date, Get Up is averaging about 272,000 viewers each morning.

Other ESPN ratings developments

Separately, ESPN has announced that Stephen A. Smith, perhaps the highest-profile personality currently under contract, will host SportsCenter during the NBA playoffs. In the same press release, the multi-channel sports network acknowledged that ratings for the 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter are up nine percent over last April when the heavily promoted program was anchored by the controversial Jemele Hill and Michael Smith. Hill and Smith left the show in January and March, respectively, for new assignments.

ESPN has also experienced the departure of 500,000 cable and satellite subscribers in April alone, constituting a revenue loss of about $48 million.

With fees that are reportedly higher than charged by any other network, ESPN has lost about 14 million subscribers (and thus, an enormous amount of cash via cable and satellite providers) through cord-cutting and other reasons since 2011, and overall viewership is also down significantly.

The sports network, which laid off hundreds of staffers at its Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters and elsewhere as recently as November 2017, also overpaid for telecast rights fees to pro and college leagues, which is currently crushing the Disney subsidiary’s bottom line. ESPN has been subject to criticism from conservatives and others, such as “radical moderate” blogger and Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, for putting sports and politics through an exclusively liberal lens rather than just covering games and game highlights.