More changes are planned for the “world wide leader” of sports programming, ESPN. The network has already announced that Jemele Hill and Michael Smith of His & Her’s will be moving on up to takeover the 6:00 PM SportsCenter duties. The latest programming announcement involves First Take.
The network’s flagship debate show is headed over to the main ESPN channel in 2017, to help boost declining viewership. Ratings began to dip with the departure of Skip Bayless to FS1’s Undisputed.
“First Take” has seen ratings averaging about 300,000 viewers per day over the last few weeks. During the same period last year, the show was averaging close to 500,000 viewers per day with both Smith and Bayless at the desk.
Meanwhile, growth for “Undisputed” has steadily increased since Week 3, where they averaged 80,200 viewers per day. Over the last four weeks, the show which is co-hosted by former NFL star Shannon Sharpe, has averaged over 100,000 viewers per day.
ESPN has other problems as well, the number of homes with ESPN has dropped below 89 million for the first time in more that a decade, according to Nielsen estimates. The cable network has reportedly loss more than 600,000 subscribers during the month of October.
Overall, ESPN’s subscriber base is now projected to fall to 88.4 million by the end of the year, a loss of more than 3.0 million subscribers since the end of 2015. 60% of the channel’s revenue is derived from subscription fees. be on the look out for ESPN’s version of HBO GO – the cable channel’s standalone web offering – in the near future.