According to reports, ESPN’s expensive new morning show, Get Up!, may already be on the verge of changes, due to low ratings and bad reviews.
By at least one report, Get Up! is “on a short leash” and may face re-tooling if it has not gelled by the September 6 kickoff of the 2018 NFL football season.
According to Sporting News, the show has performed dismally in its debut month:
Since premiering April 3, the expensive new show has suffered from underwhelming ratings, poor critical reviews and work-in-progress chemistry between co-stars Beadle, Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose. On the fly, it’s also trying to figure out what kind of show it wants to be. Does it focus on news, highlights and the feel-good, inspirational sports moments Greenberg likes? Or go big on controversial takes from Beadle and Rose?
Sporting News goes on to note that insiders have told them to “look for changes in front of and behind the camera” unless things improve by September.
Why is September so important? Because, SN says, the NFL season is when sports shows make the most money, and if Get Up! is still struggling, that money will not materialize. Which would be disastrous for the young show.
Some speculate that a fourth host may be added to bring more football expertise to the set. Candidates may include Ryan Clark, Booger McFarland or Damien Woody.
Still, ESPN’s executive vice president of content Connor Schell insists that the network intends to give Get Up! the time it needs to come into its own:
“This is a work in progress. That’s what any new show is. It’s not the same as Day 1. In fact, in many cases on a daily show, your first show is the worst one. Then you go, ‘OK, this felt comfortable, we’re going to do this, we’re going to move a little faster here, this segment worked,'” Schell said. “That’s a process that we want to give time to and let some smart, talented people think about it and iterate it. I don’t mean for that to sound like a canned answer. It’s true. It’s what we said going in.”
Schell did admit that football season is when shows like Get Up! make their bankroll. But even so, he said management still “believes” in the show.
It appears that new ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro is also keeping his eye on the show saying that network execs are watching the progress of the show “every single day.”
“We’ve already made changes to the program. And ratings are up double-digits from when we actually launched. … So we’re feeling very good about the progress,” Pitaro said.
But, Get Up! has struggled in the ratings. Despite its prime morning hours, the show has had trouble finding its audience. For instance, ratings fell for each of its first three weeks.
The show has not been a bright spot for ESPN, especially after spending $15 million combined for the annual salaries for its three hosts, not to mention the millions the cable sports network has already spent on building a New York City set, in addition to advertising for the show.
ESPN turned heads when it announced the coming debut when advanced publicity had hosts Michelle Beadle, and Jalen Rose, saying that social justice politics would feature in as an important part of their show. The quotes caused many to speculate that social justice issues would feature prominently on Get Up!
The speculation that the show would be more “woke” than sports rose to such a fever pitch that Mike Greenberg felt it necessary to come out to wave off criticism saying that social justice issues would not be a major part of the show.
In any case, it looks like the hosts of Get Up! are on notice. Get it together or face some major repercussions.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.