First Take vs Undisputed/First Take move to ESPN Ratings Update


I wrote about First Take’s move to ESPN earlier this month after a few days of data were in and gave the move a C- grade.

10+ days of additional data haven’t change the landscape.  Through Friday January 20:

  • First Take on ESPN is up 18% versus the same period last year when it was on ESPN2
  • First Take has improved its margin of victory relative to ESPN
  • The 10-Noon SportsCenters are down 60% on ESPN2 versus the same period last year when it was on ESPN
  • The combined average of the First Take & SportsCenter from 10-noon ET is down 19% vs last year
  • Immediately prior to moving First Take to ESPN, the combined average of the two shows was down around 25% versus last year so there’s an argument to be made that the move helped. Down 19% is better than down 25%

Prior to moving First Take to ESPN both First Take and the 10-noon SportsCenter dominated whatever was airing on FS1. But since the move Undisputed has beaten ESPN2’s SportsCenter a few times.

Overall ESPN is about in the same boat as it was before except:

  • the people at First Take are surely happier
  • the people doing AM SportsCenter are surely unhappier
  • FS1’s Jamie Horowitz is smiling more

ESPN might have a reasonable case to make that First Take was a higher priority for it than AM SportsCenter. And ESPN certainly has a case to make that First Take was a higher priority than making Jamie Horowitz miserable. But after a couple of years of Horowitz somewhat ridiculously pronouncing SportsCenter vulnerable, ESPN gave Horowitz an in to say, “See? I believe I had that!”

That rankles.

Here are the numbers since First Take’s move to ESPN on Tuesday, January 3 through Friday, January 20:

DayFirst Take 2017 ESPNFirst Take 2016 (ESPN2)% Change10-Noon ESPN2 201710-Noon ESPN 2016% ChgUndisputed FS1 2017
2016 combined avg847
2017 combined avg687

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