Smith Kellerman First Take

Since Undisputed debuted on FS1 in September, it has managed to eat into First Take’s numbers on ESPN2. But ever since October when FS1 promoted itself as “America’s #1 Sports Network” due to great Natonal League Championship Series numbers, much of Undisputed’s gains have been shed to the point where Fox can’t make that claim anymore.

Sports TV Ratings notes that First Take is still easily beating Undisputed head-to-head, but its viewership is down 35% since Skip Bayless’ debut on FS1 in early September.

On November 17, First Take averaged 244,000 viewers. Last year on the equivalent date, it was at 466,000 viewers. By comparison, Undisputed on FS1 averaged just 93,000 viewers on November 17.

During its peak during the NLCS, Undisputed had as much as 168,000 viewers, but many who had sampled the show during the series have left. Still, the viewership has not dropped its the nadir of 68,000.

Sports TV Ratings says since Labor Day, First Take has averaged 306,000 viewers compared to 469,000 last year.

Because of First Take’s losses, the show will move from ESPN2 to ESPN right after the New Year in hopes of stemming the tide and making the show more prominent with viewers. Whether that works remains to be seen, but the fact that the Worldwide Leader is willing to move the show is proof that Undisputed is having an impact.

Debate continues to be a hot commodity for the cable sports networks even to the point where regional sports networks are picking it up for programming.

We’ll see if Undisputed continues to cut into First Take’s numbers when the move from ESPN2 to ESPN  occurs on January 3 or if it’s just what the doctor ordered and the viewership returns to its 2015 levels.

[Sports TV Ratings]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.