Love him or hate him, Skip Bayless certainly knew how to make people pay attention.

Bayless became a star at ESPN by drawing hundreds of thousands of daily viewers to a cheaply produced morning talk show on ESPN2. Now that he has bolted for FS1, his old show, First Take has seen its ratings decline sharply. Per Sports TV Ratings, the show, which features Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, is down 29 percent from last year since Labor Day.

Perhaps to stave off First Take’s drop in viewership, ESPN is now airing taped segments of the show each week during halftime of Monday Night Football. That practice began Sept. 26 during Saints-Falcons, but with most people tuned into the presidential debate that night, the world seemed to notice for the first time Monday, during Giants-Vikings.

In fact, two people who agree about almost nothing came together to mock First Take‘s cameo on MNF.

There’s no question Bayless’ departure hurt First Take and that airing segments of the show during Monday Night Football feels like a desperate reach for ratings (For what its worth, an ESPN executive told Richard Deitsch that with MNF, the network wanted to “expose the talent and chemistry of Stephen A. and Max [Kellerman] to a wider audience.”), but there’s one problem with Travis’ trash talk:

No one is watching Bayless’ new show. In fact, FS1’s Undisputed, which features Bayless and Shannon Sharpe doing the same things Bayless and Smith used to do on First Take, is drawing about a third as many viewers as First Take, even after the ESPN’s show’s drop-off in ratings.

Bayless’ defection to FS1 was supposed to cripple his old ESPN show while launching a new dynasty with his new one. It’s still early, but for now it looks like a mission half-accomplished.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

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