“First Take” TV ratings with and without Skip Bayless in the “Undisputed” era


Update October 24: here’s the most up-to-date data.

My guess is that FS1 had to be hoping for more (ratings-wise) from “Skip & Shannon: Undisputed.” That guess could be wrong, but even if FS1’s execs aren’t jumping for joy over “Undisputed’s” numbers, at least ESPN2’s “First Take” is down 28 percent year over year through its first eight days competing with “Undisputed.” That must have the Fox Sports execs smiling at least a little.

How much of “First Take’s” decline is due to the loss of Skip Bayless and new competition from Bayless? How much is due to ESPN subscriber losses? How much is due to normal year over year erosion in the era of ever-expanding boredom-killing options? Those are interesting questions and I hope to take a look at them as the year progresses.

One other data point: ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” is down 15 percent in the aggregate year over year for seven* of those same eight days. If you want to chalk up some of those declines to FS1 scheduling “Speak for Yourself” from 5-6pm, have at it, but based on the numbers for “Speak for Yourself” it definitely doesn’t explain all of PTI’s declines.

*There was a day the show aired on ESPN2 last year that aired on ESPN News this year so I took that day out of the mix.

I Tweeted these charts out the other day (the 2nd via Deadspin’s Kevin Draper includes the week before Labor Day):



This article has 14 Comments

  1. I personally stopped watching PTI. It is getting stale, and although Kornheiser still brings it, Wilbon just goes through the motions and won’t criticize any NBA players or his friends. I’m enjoying SFY more. Cowherd is a smart dude and I enjoy his takes.

    1. I’ve watched PTI since the very first episode when I was in college.

      It’s my after work ‘unwinding’ show. It has also replaced Sportscenter as the show where I get my sports news.

      But I see ‘anthem’ in the list of topics almost every day and it gets old.

      PTI used to be intelligent sports talk. I have always known Wilbon and TK lean left, but that doesn’t bother me. What annoys me are segments on sports figures Snapchat accounts, pushing soccer and NBA storylines when one isn’t there, and ignoring baseball and hockey.
      It also use to be a more lively, humorous show. TK doesn’t seem to bring the humor as much as he used to.

      I agree that Wilbon has been mailing it in for quite some time.

  2. I don’t agree with you that Wilson is mailing it in. The subject matter becomes stale at times, but he and Tony, still bring it. Now SFY, is spot on, intelligent, refreshing, insightful with takes by two class acts. For me, First take was always hard to listen to between playground loud and redundant SAS, and the boring, rabbit trail Skip Bayless. RIP FT! SFY rules!

  3. I quit watching First Take and all of ESPN shows once they became more of Disney political agenda being forced down our throats while mixing in a little sports in between. I find SFY and Undisputed alot more entertaining and honest. ESPN seems hell bent on ruining NFL with critical opinions all day. I think once MNF contract runs out, it will be on another network. They’ve replaced all the good talent and former players with cheaper “diversity” boring talking heads. Keep at it fs1

    1. So your issue is you believe they are pushing all the white guys out to hire “boring diversity” candidates which is really code word for “wahhhh too many blacks on TV, we need the all white days back”. Thats why you cant talk race with white people they dont “Get it”, complaining about diversity and its “ruining America” is essentially admitting your prejudice

      1. No partna….again with race…race…race…get a new card. ESPN has gotten rid of Ray Lewis (who is my all time favorite player), Chris Carter, and basically the entire Sunday nfl countdown and many other frequent guests to the shows I used to frequently watch in order to cut costs and bring in white boring talking heads to interject the Disney agenda instead of talking sports. Get over it. They’re losing veiwers across the board! Has nothing to do with race (of course by those who need to interject it into EVERY thing). So next time you open your mouth,think about the people they have let go and who they’ve replaced them with. Carry on. I’m sure there is another race issue you can try to interject somewhere

  4. How much is the ratings decline due to First Take’s desire to talk about and promote the national anthem protests as much as possible? Some of it, at least. Of course, Shannon is even more of black militant than Stephen A. Smith and not nearly as a coherent.

    1. Kirk, I disagree with your comments on Shannon Sharpe. He has never given me a reason to believe he is a black militant. He gave valid examples to convey his opinion regarding racial inequality. He completed his thoughts by stating that it’s gotten better but still needs to improve. Exactly how is that militant? Steven Arnold is way off base with his little “quarters change for a dollar” analogy. Shannon knows sports, is genuine & doesn’t need to be the center of attention all the time. He’s been very good on the show. The female moderator is also enjoyable.

  5. I’m also tired of all the political opinions, I don’t care what there political views are I want sports talk. When Stephen A.Smith said he was a black man first and a American second he lost me. I’m trying “Undisputed” but Shannon Sharpe seems to have a quarters worth of information but wants to give change for a dollar. Ray Lewis makes the most sense and I applaud his passionate position.

    1. Let me guess you’re white Steven. Where you’re from should never trump or be more important than your humanity. Being an American just means you happened to be born in between arbitrary borders, it honestly means nothing…… You shouldn’t have a problem stating they’re human or a black man first, if you do you are the problem not the person you’re leveling your criticism at.

  6. im black and I must say in todays world Clark, u can always change your appearance and gender for that matter. You cannot change being born in America or Africa or Asia or Europe. I am an American first. Most are. Those born from the 60s..MAJORIty are Americans… Most of us WHITE/BLACK never touch down on these so called Africas, Europes, and Australias..GET REAL… No USA chanting..just born in America, Detroit, MichigAN..PERIOD. when u die, all that dont matter anyway if you dont have any life insurance. BTW: SKIP gonna take down First take. Give it a year..SHANNON SHARPE way to go!

  7. It because ESPN has become such a joke been saying this for many years. They have move so far away from sports. It seem like I am watching the News talking about news stuff instead of sports. Also it seems like ESPN be told what to say more and more over the years.

    But Fox Sports they are letting the Sport personality be themselves. Don’t matter if I agree with them or not. I just much more enjoyable to here these people tell there true feelings.

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